by Mary Calhoun
ISBN 0-688-13919-1 (Trade edition)
ISBN 0-688-13920-5 (Library edition)
1997 Published by Morrow Junior Books, New York
"Nature's fury...and a family's strength Sarajean has played by the Mississippi River all her life, so when she hears that it might overflow its banks and flood her home, she can't believe it! But the rain keeps falling, and the river continues to rise. Her family stacks sandbags around the house's foundation and moves upstairs. For a while Sarajean has fun pretending she's camping out-but then the levee breaks....Using the devastating Midwest floods of 1993 as their backdrop, best-selling author Mary Calhoun and award-winning illustrator Erick Ingraham tell the poignant story of a young girl who discovers what is truly important during a time of trouble.
You don't belong in here!" Sarajean screamed out the window at the river." How could you do this to us?"
When Sarajean first hears that the exciting river she's lived near all her life might overflow its banks and flood her home, she can't believe it. Not her beloved river! But the rain keeps falling-and the river continues to rise.
Mom and dad say not to worry, but just in case, they stack sandbags around the house's foundation, and the family packs up their belongings and moves upstairs. For a while Sarajean has fun pretending she's camping out. But then the levee breaks....
...With a brooding intensity, watercolor and pencil illustrations impressively convey the imminent danger:water-invaded cornfields, darkly pregnant storm clouds, the sandbagging efforts of resolute residents. Particularly poignant is the portrait of Sarajean peering anxiously from a window, the panes reflecting the flood's menacing presence. Text and pictures combine to create a moody atmosphere of familial dramas played against mounting peril...
KIRKUS 2/1/97 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.
ALA [Starred Review]
Ages 4-9. Powerful in its understatement, this dramatic picture book tells of a young midwestern girl and her family who lose their home in the 1993 flooding of theMississippi River. The storytelling is quiet, but it is tightly paced as it moves inexorably to the climax. At first Sarajean finds it exciting as the river rises and rises, and everyone works to build up the levee, and her dad loads the pickup with sandbags to stack against the house. Should they stay? Grandma is adamant that she won't leave home, so they empty out the first floor and move upstairs, until finally the levee breaks, the town is drowning, and they must move to their relatives' place on higher ground. Ingraham's pastel pencil and watercolor illustrations are extraordinary, both the sweeping views of the stormy midwestern landscape and the interior close-up scenes of the family facing their loss together. Much of Sarajean's narrative focuses on Grandma, and the view of the elderly woman clutching her photo albums in a boat in the early morning light is a telling image of the natural disaster. Just as moving is the unspoken drama of Sarajean's parents. In their taut faces around the kitchen table you can see what isn't said: their heartbreak and their bond. --Hazel Rochman