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Kid Konnection: Saint Louis Armstrong Beach

October 29, 2011

With a name like his, eleven-year old Saint has a lot to live up to, but he’s doing a great job of it.  He loves to play his clarinet and plays it in the tourist areas of New Orleans to make money to buy his dream clarinet.  You see, he’s got big plans to attend Juilliard one day.

The summer of 2005 is a pretty good one for Saint – his closest friend had been mad at him but she seems to be coming around and he almost has enough money to buy that clarinet.  While he’s worried about the things an eleven-year old should be worried about, people start watching a small storm called Katrina, and all of a sudden Saint’s world is turned upside down.  His parents insist he evacuate New Orleans with his uncle’s family, but Saint won’t go without Shadow, the neighborhood dog.  Saint doesn’t have long to come up with a plan to save himself and Shadow.

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach, by Brenda Woods, is the story of how a young boy survived Hurricane Katrina.  Saint is a great character – he’s honest (he tries to only tell one white lie a day), hard working, dedicated, and loves his family and friends.  He’s faithful to his music and his dog.  He doesn’t always make the best decisions, but I always rooted for him.

I appreciated the glimpse into the Tremé section of New Orleans, but wondered if an eleven year old would have the kind of freedom Saint did.   There were a few storylines in the book that were dropped and I felt like it might have been better if they had been left out altogether so the story of the hurricane could be developed more.  Maybe that would be too much for the intended middle grade audience though.

Even though I feel it has a few weak spots, I think Saint Louis Armstrong Beach is a great book to introduce young readers to Hurricane Katrina.  It allows them to put a face on the tragedy with a character they can relate to.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Penguin. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
12 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2011 8:08 am

    I love that about only trying to tell one white lie a day!

  2. October 29, 2011 8:36 am

    This sounds like a good effort at talking about a scary subject with this age group. So was he named after the New Orleans football team? 🙂

  3. October 29, 2011 9:11 am

    It’s always interesting to see how people adapt tragedy for a younger audience.

  4. October 29, 2011 10:15 am

    I was previously interested in hurricane Katrina books, but reading Salvage the Bones really ruined me for all that for so many reasons. I am not sure I would read this one, but Melissa may like it. It sounds like it has an interesting premise.

  5. October 29, 2011 10:55 am

    Looks interesting and a great way to introduce some history to MG kids.

  6. October 29, 2011 11:16 am

    This is a story that would appeal to my son. And the setting makes it interesting for me as a parent to use as an introduction to world events.

  7. October 29, 2011 6:00 pm

    I’ve seen this one popping up more and more in my feed reader. All reviews point towards it being a great read. Despite the few weaker areas I’m glad you ultimately enjoyed it.

  8. October 29, 2011 7:38 pm

    This looks adorable. I can’t wait until my kid is old enough to read things like this.

  9. October 29, 2011 10:22 pm

    Wha a name! I love that he only tries to tell one white lie a day! How great would the world be (especially the politicians) tried this?!

  10. October 30, 2011 5:31 pm

    I read this for VOYA and really enjoyed it. I’ve read a couple of Brenda Woods books and hope she’ll be writing more SOON!

  11. October 30, 2011 5:45 pm

    Hmm…one white lie a day? I’m sure I surpass that one! This is an interesting sounding story.

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