Top positive review
A story about the worst natural disaster in U.S. History
Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2021
This book tells the story of the devastating hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900. The story is told from the perspective of the fictional character Charlie Miller, an 11 year old boy living with his parents and little sister. The book has 19 main chapters, and about 104 pages.
The story starts with the Charlie trying desperately to survive, separated from the rest of his family as the raging waters carry him away. He wonders if he will make it, and hopes that the rest of his family is still alive.
The next chapter jumps back in time to four days earlier, and gives some background about Charlie and his family. We learn that Charlie is interested in practicing magic tricks, and wants to be a magician when he gets older. We find out that Charlie's two year old sister Lulu is frightened of storms, and often cries when there is a big one. We are told that Charlie and his friends often go for a swim in the overflows that sometimes occur, and we hear from the local meteorologist about how it is impossible for Galveston to be hit by a hurricane.
Over the next few chapters, we see Charlie get bullied by a mean kid from his neighborhood, and hear the stories of a past hurricane told by a local elderly man. Nobody believes the old man about a hurricane that hit in the 1830s, and everyone just thinks the old man is senile. Then we cut to the day of the big hurricane, Sept. 8th, 1900. Charlie notices the water levels rising, flooding in the streets, and their yard is swarmed by hundreds of frogs. As the storm increases in intensity, a gust of wind pulls Charlie out into the storm, and he fights to survive along with the bully kid from earlier in the story. Eventually they make it through, and the story ends with a description of what the town is like six months later.
After the main story, there are a few extras added in at the back of the book. There is a picture of people swimming in Galveston in 1895, a picture of the beach there today, a couple more old pictures, and some notes from the author. Then there are some statistics about the devastation caused by the hurricane, and more facts about hurricanes in general. There are a few more facts about Galveston, a biography of the real life meteorologist that was wrong about hurricanes, and other information like the popularity of magicians in the early 1900s. The last part gives some tips about how to stay safe in a hurricane.
Overall, this was an informative book that is fairly easy to read. Our eight year old was able to read the book without much difficulty, although I'm not sure if this is the ideal age for such a story of death and devastation, as he did have a nightmare about hurricanes after reading this. The story is pretty intense at the beginning for a very young reader, and you might want to read it for yourself first and decide if such a detailed description of a terrible event is appropriate for your child. I would imagine it might be better for around age ten and up, but it obviously depends on your child.