Monday, May 9, 2011

Mix N' Match Monday: Hurricanes

I guess today is my day to highlight disaster books.  For Nonfiction Monday, I highlighted tornadoes and for Mix N' Match Monday, I am highlighting hurricanes.

Storm Runners
by Roland Smith
Scholastic Press, 2011
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from personal copy.

Storm Runners is the first in a new trilogy by Roland Smith.  After his mother and sister's deaths, as well as his father's brush with death, Chase travels around the country with his father, offering 'help' to those whose property is damaged by natural disasters of various kinds.  Chase doesn't think that helping people prepare for storms for free and then charging to help repair the damage afterwords is very ethical.  This time he and his father head down to Florida in preparation for a big hurricane that has been forecast.  Chase stays with the trailer and semi-truck while his father and Tomas head to the city that seems to be the hurricane's target.  Chase discovers to his surprise that he is staying at an animal park where circus animals are kept and cared for.  He befriends Nicole, the manager's daughter and helps organize the place.  Chase and Nicole are on their way home from school on a bus when Hurricane Emily strikes. When the bus gets tossed around by the hurricane, Chase, Nicole, and Rashawn must brave the storm to try to reach safety.

Like many of Smith's books, this one presents a survival situation where the main character must use his/her wits to survive.  The book provides just enough tension to make the reader want to finish the book and find out what happens to Chase and his new found friends.  Being the first of a trilogy, however, means that the book ends on a cliffhanger.  Chase's situation presents the reader with a glimpse into just how terrifying and dangerous hurricanes really are. Recommended for those who like survival stories.

This next book, as nonfiction, takes the reader into the science of hurricanes and into the path of Hurricane Katrina as experienced by the author, a newspaper reporter.

Hurricane Force: In the Path of America's Deadliest Storms
by Joseph B. Treaster
Kingfisher, 2007
Grades 5 and up
Reviewed from personal copy.

As a reporter, Treaster's job required him to head not away from Hurricane Katrina, but right into the heart of it.  After the storm, he was asked to turn his experiences into a book, which he has done.  The result is a quite readable book about Hurricane Katrina and the science and tracking of hurricanes in general.

He starts with a brief look at the history of hurricanes and the human reactions to them.  He follows that up by talking about some of his own experiences with hurricanes and the horrific damage they do.  Then he explores the science of hurricanes and the technology developed to monitor and study them, including the dangerous job of flying into the heart of hurricanes.  He moves on to discuss the ways that people react to hurricanes, everything from evacuation to sitting it out.

This book provides a very readable account of what it's like to live through and study hurricanes, as well as giving an introduction to the nature of hurricanes.  The book would make a nice complement to a study of the weather by giving students a spectator's eye view of this most devastating of storms.  The photographs, charts, diagrams, and sidebars provide supporting information. Recommended to those who like me are fascinated with the weather.

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