Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This reassuring story centers upon the preparations taken to stem the 1993 flood in the Midwest, which, according to the book's epilogue, covered towns in 12 to 16 feet of water. Calhoun evokes the likable, fictional Sarajean's anxieties (especially about separation from her dog), the calmness of her parents and the staunch resolve of her grandmother, who at first resists evacuation. The men sandbag, the women make sandwiches, and Sarajean's disbelief that the river will overflow yields to an attempt to reconcile the fact with her love for the river: "You wouldn't have done this if it hadn't rained so much, Sarajean told her river, trying to forgive it." Ingraham's (illustrator of Calhoun's Cross-Country Cat) pale, soberly realistic watercolors suit the serious topic, but their extreme restraint and composure, particularly in the emotionless faces of the adults, tamp down the magnitude of the disaster. Despite the potentially dramatic backdrop of the flood, the level-headed story is similarly flat: perhaps overly concerned with setting young readers' minds at ease, the quiet narrative never grips their imagination. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Rae Valabek
A fictional account of the 1993 Midwest flood, this book uses the talents of an award winning illustrator and a best selling author to create a vivid account of a child's view of the flood. Sarajean speaks to the river throughout the flood. When her family desperately moves to the second floor and her neighbors leave, Sarajean realizes what is most important to her and her family. The beautiful watercolors of normal activities seem like photographs.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-4In this fictional account of the Midwest flood of 1993, Sarajean and her family are determined to remain in their home when the Mississippi River overflows its banks. They take provisions to the top floor, but when the levee breaks, they are forced to seek shelter from the raging river with relatives who live on higher ground. Calhoun convincingly portrays young Sarajean's ambivalenceher excitement at seeing her beloved Mississippi at its most majestic and joining the adults in their sandbagging efforts, and her nagging uneasiness about the impending flood and being separated from her dog. Ingraham's illustrations, executed in acrylic paints and pastels, are large, befitting such a big subject, and often spill over onto a facing page. Colors are muted, evoking a landscape and a people washed out by months of unrelenting rain. The characters are sturdy, grim-faced folk, and their bearing suggests that they are used to hardship and have the will to overcome it. In a reassuring yet unsentimental conclusion, Sarajean and her family take comfort in being together and safe, even though they have lost their possessions. An epilogue provides readers with facts about the devastating flood. Carole G. Vogel's The Great Midwest Flood (Little, Brown, 1995) is a nonfiction treatment of the same topic.Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community-Technical College, CT
Wholesome family values are served up in this story of one family's survival of the great flood of the Midwest in 1993.
Sarajean is as tenacious as her grandmother in her resistance to the rising waters of her beloved Mississippi. When possessions, including Sarajean's dog, are moved to higher ground, her family staunchly "camps out" on the second story to weather the storm. When the levee breaks, they are forced to evacuate. In true Laura Ingalls Wilder style, they learn the true meaning of home. This is not high-action disaster drama; it is social commentary via the portrait of an individual family's efforts and contribution within a community. Appropriately dull grays and blues convey the damp, dreary heaviness of the skies and water-soaked landscape in a much more serious take on floods than found in George Ella Lyon's lively Come a Tide (1990). Although the home-is-where-the-heart-is message is heavy-handed, it's also enduring.