________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 34. . . .May 2, 2014


Superstorm Sandy. (Disaster Alert!).

Lynn Peppas.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2014.
48 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & html, $11.95 (pbk.) $21.56 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-1195-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-1193-3 (RLB.), ISBN 978-1-4271-8942-4 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4271-8940-0 (html).

Subject Headings:
Hurricane Sandy, 2012-Juvenile literature.
Disaster victims-United States-Juvenile literature.
Rescue Work-United States-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Suzanne Pierson.

*** /4



Mandatory Evacuation

New Jersey governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency for New Jersey on October 27. Residents and businesses on the barrier islands, from Sandy Hook South to Cape May, were under a mandatory evacuation order. People had to leave the area by 4 p.m. on October 28. People could choose to stay with friends or relatives farther inland, or at county shelters. Governor Christie also warned all New Jersey residents to prepare for power outages to last up to ten days.


Superstorm Sandy is a new addition to the Crabtree “Disaster Alert!” series. The book is organized with a table of contents at the beginning and simple glossary and an index at the end. There is also a “Learning More” page that lists books and websites that students can refer to for more information about hurricanes.

     Superstorm Sandy begins with some good information about what a hurricane is and how a hurricane forms. The Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale is presented in a colourful chart with wind speeds in both mph and kmh. A map with a clear legend shows the path that the storm took as it progressed from a tropical depression to a category 2 hurricane. The timeline of the storm’s progress is included so students can track how quickly the storm moved.

     The remainder of the book looks at the effect of the storm as it moves from the Caribbean to landfall on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

     Author Lynn Peppas has chosen to tell the story of the storm by looking at different communities in the path of the storm. Chapter titles include “Landfall: New Jersey”; “Sea Bright Devastation”; “Landfall: New York City”; “Long Island”; “Breezy Point, Queens”; “Red Hook, Brooklyn”; Manhattan Hospitals”; and “Staten Island”. “It Really Happened…” Text boxes tell personal stories of some of the people affected by Superstorm Sandy.

     Superstorm Sandy is a good attempt to humanize a natural disaster, but it is sometimes too much information for young readers. For example, a map of Breezy Point, a community on the Rockaway Peninsula in the New York borough of Queens, shows many of the street names. This is clutter. We don’t need to know where Utica Walk, or Beach 222nd Street, or West Market Street are.

     My greatest concern about this book involves some of the photos. Photos in nonfiction books for young readers should either add information or clarify the text. Unfortunately, a few of the photos seem to have been chosen more to fill a blank space on the page than serve an educational function. For example, a picture caption says, “Tropical storm winds have the power to break tree branches, knock down trees, and cause damage to buildings.” The picture shows some palm trees on a street of high-rise office buildings. It is clear from the branches that the wind is blowing, but the palm trees are not even bending, and no damage to the trees or buildings is evident. The disconnect between picture and caption isn’t fatal; it’s just disappointing. More careful editing would have chosen a picture that would help young students really understand the power of a tropical storm.

     This book is about a recent disaster and tells many personal stories of people affected by a major hurricane. With a little more attention to details it could have been great. As it is, it is a good resource that will have to compete for a spot on your shelves. Look around first and see if you can find something better.


Suzanne Pierson is a retired teacher-librarian, currently instructing librarianship courses at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON.

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

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