Saint Louis Armstrong Beach

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach

4.8 12
by Brenda Woods
     
 

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The gripping story of a boy, a dog and a hurricane

Saint is a boy with confidence as big as his name is long. A budding musician, he earns money playing clarinet for the New Orleans tourists. His best friend is a stray dog named Shadow, and it's because of Shadow that Saint's still in town when Hurricane Katrina hits. Saint's not worried about the hurricane at

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Overview

The gripping story of a boy, a dog and a hurricane

Saint is a boy with confidence as big as his name is long. A budding musician, he earns money playing clarinet for the New Orleans tourists. His best friend is a stray dog named Shadow, and it's because of Shadow that Saint's still in town when Hurricane Katrina hits. Saint's not worried about the hurricane at first—he plans to live to be a hundred just to defy his palm-reader friend Jupi, who told him he had a short life line. But now the city has been ordered to evacuate and Saint won't leave without Shadow. His search brings him to his elderly neighbor's home and the three of them flee to her attic when the waters rise. But when Miz Moran's medication runs out, it's up to Saint to save her life—and his beloved Shadow's.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in New Orleans during the week leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, Woods’s novel introduces Saint Louis Armstrong Beach, an 11-year-old resident of the city’s Tremé neighborhood. Named after both his grandfather and the jazz musician, Saint (an accomplished clarinet player, not a trumpeter) has a “mostly good” life before the storm, with close ties to his parents and his tight-knit community, including a neighborhood dog, Shadow. When evacuation of the city becomes mandatory, Saint is supposed to leave town with his extended family, but he returns to his neighborhood to search for Shadow and winds up caring for his diabetic elderly neighbor, Miz Moran, as the levees break and the streets flood. While Woods (A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame) concludes on a realistically uncertain note, the contrivances that allow for the book’s perhaps too-happy ending (including a dream sequence and some unlikely efforts on Shadow’s part) shield readers from the more devastating realities of the disaster. Still, Saint is an easy protagonist to love, and his reunion with his parents remains gratifying. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)
Library Media Connection
"Provides a vivid description of what life was like in pre-Katrina New Orleans, and how quickly peoples' lives were shattered. The characters are well-developed, and readers truly will care about their fates."
The Horn Book
"Spare, moving. . . . Carefully crafted backstory. . . . Vividly portrays the force of the storm, and the authentic New Orleans setting works as a powerful character, adding an extra dimension."
Booklist
"As the water rises, so does the suspense. . . . What lies at the heart of this story rings true: Saint's love for his neighborhood and his hard-earned hope for the future."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Will obviously beg comparison with Jewell Parke Rhodes's Ninth Ward. . . . Both books are solid reads that feature likable protagonists with distinctive, readable voices, and emphasize the importance of faith, community, and resilience."
From the Publisher
"Gripping. . . . A small gem that sparkles with hope, resilience and the Crescent City's unique, jazz-infused spirit." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Readers will quickly take a shine to Saint. . . . The food, music, and tempo of New Orleans all come to life. . . . While the tragedy of the event is not glossed over, the overall theme is one of hope." — School Library Journal, starred review

"Provides a vivid description of what life was like in pre-Katrina New Orleans, and how quickly peoples' lives were shattered. The characters are well-developed, and readers truly will care about their fates." — Library Media Connection, starred review

"Spare, moving. . . . Carefully crafted backstory. . . . Vividly portrays the force of the storm, and the authentic New Orleans setting works as a powerful character, adding an extra dimension." — The Horn Book

"As the water rises, so does the suspense. . . . What lies at the heart of this story rings true: Saint's love for his neighborhood and his hard-earned hope for the future." — Booklist

"Will obviously beg comparison with Jewell Parke Rhodes's Ninth Ward. . . . Both books are solid reads that feature likable protagonists with distinctive, readable voices, and emphasize the importance of faith, community, and resilience." — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

"Woods concludes on a realistically uncertain note. . . . Saint is an easy protagonist to love." — Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Some stories of suffering, kindness, perseverance and hope are written with style and grace; others are pedantic. This story falls in the first category, with a charming boy who aspires to study clarinet at Julliard when he grows up. The boy is named Saint after his grandfather; Louis Armstrong after the jazz trumpet player; and Beach because that is his father's last name. Of course, he has to suffer through all kinds of comments about the Saint part of his name. He is well known for his musical ability and aspirations, as well as his kind nature. Saint makes money as a street musician, saving for a professional-grade clarinet and his tuition at Julliard. He befriends a street dog named Shadow that always hangs around like a "shadow." He lives in the Treme section of New Orleans and life is good until Hurricane Katrina hits. He ends up stranded in an elderly neighbor's house, where he and the neighbor and Shadow ride out the storm. The story gives a good flavor of life in Treme, at least as depicted in the cable TV series of the same name. The book is a nice addition to any school library and a good starting point for discussions of hurricanes, community values, music, and heroism. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Saint Louis Armstrong Beach is an 11-year-old, clarinet-playing resident of Tremé, a neighborhood near the French Quarter in New Orleans. As Saint saves up his street-performing tips for a new clarinet and tries to make sense of his broken relationship with his former best friend, a catastrophic storm gathers. Saint is forced to evacuate the city, but decides to turn back in search of the neighborhood stray dog. He ends up heading right into the path of Hurricane Katrina. With his engaging voice, readers will quickly take a shine to Saint. The dialogue is strong, smooth, and natural. The food, music, and tempo of New Orleans all come to life, told with an efficiency that keeps interest high. The conclusion is a bit abrupt, however, leaving some loose ends. Woods skillfully provides a sense of the growing tension as the storm approaches. The real-life events of Hurricane Katrina—the evacuation, the levees failing, the Superdome— are integrated smoothly into the story. While the tragedy of the event is not glossed over, the overall theme is one of hope.—Travis Jonker, Dorr Elementary School, MI
Kirkus Reviews

This gripping addition to the growing body of fiction portraying Katrina's profound effect on children and families pits an 11-year-old boy, a neighborhood dog and an elderly woman against the hurricane and subsequent devastating flood.

Narrator Saint is a gifted clarinetist with Juilliard dreams and a soft spot for Shadow, a black Lab mix he longs to fully claim. Families flee Tremé, but Saint's mom, a dedicated hospital social worker, toils overtime as Katrina homes in. Pops arranges for Saint to evacuate with Uncle Hugo's family, but Shadow—to Saint's tearful dismay—runs off. Shadow's pivotal in the plotting, as Saint slips back into town to find him. Fate tosses boy and dog in with stubborn neighbor Miz Moran, who's evaded her own relatives in order to remain at home. Their attic confinement is a study in contrasts: The woman's good planning yields battery-operated fans and freeze-dried ice cream, but unplanned-for issues include her worsening health and dog poop. Saint bests the flooded house to retrieve Miz Moran's insulin; the lady's casual admission that her three heart attacks "was mild ones" ratchets tension. Woods' marvelous characterizations of Saint and Miz Moran more than stand up to the vivid backdrop of the flooded, chaotic city. Shadow's credulity-straining heroics will please kids.

A small gem that sparkles with hope, resilience and the Crescent City's unique, jazz-infused spirit. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399255076
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
09/01/2011
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
1,452,780
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

Brenda Woods, whose family hails from New Orleans, is the author of Coretta Scott King Honor winner The Red Rose Box and ALA Quick Pick Emako Blue. She lives in the Los Angeles area.

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