How does one write about tragedy and devastation for children? How about with an infusion of hope embodied in a dog and a brass cornet? Even though Louis Daniel is a fictional character in A Storm Called Katrina written by Myron Uhlberg and illustrated by Colin Bootman (Peachtree Publishers, 2011), his experience parallels the reality of many victims of Hurricane Katrina.
This book is obviously important for portraying a personal account of those first days of the water rising – scary scenes about death and chaos and potential harm are shown with a balance of honesty and grace that allow for young children to have a grasp of what happened without feeling devastated themselves as they internalize the tragedy into their own lives.
I found it a story both beautiful and sad, and utterly full of hope, something every child, and adult, needs.
While this book is useful for science lessons about extreme weather and emergency preparedness, I think it is equally if not more useful for promoting empathy. I have written a lesson plan with a focus on writing for 4th through 6th graders that allows students to “walk a mile in Louis’ shoes” in an attempt to promote empathy and self-empowerment. If interested please see