At the end of this month, we will be remembering Hurricane Katrina on its tenth anniversary. That is hard to fathom. As memories tend to do: they fade. More so if you were secondhand witness to the events, as was I.
DROWNED CITY, written and illustrated by Don Brown poignantly captures the essence—the memories—of a devastating hurricane. It is amazing how many details, subtle and bold, can be captured in the combination of art panels and word bubbles. Make no mistake, this graphic novel is thoroughly researched and powerfully accurate. (Brown includes several pages of his references in the back of the book; almost every panel is lifted from a direct quote of victim or participant.)
I read this book with my children, both of whom were born after the events of Hurricane Katrina. I think I learned more than they did. It saddens me to think about the 5,000 children that were separated from their parents—separated by stretches of water that encompass land seven-times the size of Manhattan. I felt fear for those trapped in the rancid environments, their rescuers blockaded on the water by knots of living, poisonous snakes. Though this is an appropriate book for late elementary school readers, my children were emotionally torn at the thought of lost, sick animals (though the residential rescue of animals during Katrina has established new thinking for future events).
To say I learned a lot from a graphic novel would be an understatement. This book has educated me, in knowledge, remembrance, and emotion. It’s simplicity is powerful; it’s message clear. Hold on to this and do not forget.
You can find more about this book, including a preview of it, on Amazon, here: Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans