________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 10 . . . . November 6, 2009



Celia Godkin.           
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-080-7.

Subject Heading:
Hurricanes-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Linda Ludke.

**** /4


The manatee stuck her head out of the water. It was a warm, sunny day, but she was uneasy. Something told her a storm was brewing far out in the open ocean. 

She drew her little one to her and began to swim along the shoreline, looking for a sheltered place to ride out the storm.

No one knows for sure how animals sense an approaching storm, but we know that they do.


The effects of a hurricane on humans and wildlife are described in this narrative nonfiction picture book set in a Florida seaside town. Sensing a storm brewing, animals living in a mangrove swamp start to seek shelter. As the fiddler crabs burrow deep in the mud "ready to ride out the storm," a flock of brown pelicans flie away to safer areas. The human residents of the town also heed the warnings about an approaching hurricane and board up windows and drive away. 

     The rising storm is vividly recounted: "The wind rose to a screaming pitch. Trees blew over and utility poles toppled, sending live wires snaking along the ground. The sea boomed with a deep bass note, and the very air seemed to vibrate with sound." Meteorological terms, such as "storm surge," are explained. The acrylic illustrations of roof shingles and windows flying through the air show the destructive strength of the wind. Small labelled insets show views of the hurricane from above and from the side. 

internal art

     After the storm ends, life returns. Most marsh plants, although bent, had survived. Frogs and opossums return to their feeding grounds. The townspeople return to survey the damage and plan to rebuild. In explaining this process of renewal, Godkin makes the point that "Hurricanes are as much a part of nature as manatees and pelicans and mangrove trees." 

     Final sections explore in more detail the ecosystem of the mangrove swamp. A world distribution map shows the mangrove locations along with the major tropical storms. An author's note addresses the effect of global warming on the frequency and severity of hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones. 

     As in her previous award-winning book, Fire! The Renewal of a Forest (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2006), Godkin explores the cycle of nature in a thoroughly engaging and accessible manner. A must-have for non-fiction collections.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.