Review of All Hands on Deck!: A Deadly Hurricane, a Daring Rescue, and the Origin of the Cajun Navy

All Hands on Deck!: A Deadly Hurricane, a Daring Rescue, and the Origin of the Cajun Navy
by Robert Neubecker; illus. by the author
Primary    Knopf    40 pp.    g
6/21    978-0-593-17689-4    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-17690-0    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-17691-7    $10.99

“The little boats come from all over the coast, one by one. Bass boats and airboats and rowboats, fishing boats and speedboats and skiffs all answer the call, captained by everyday people coming to help.” Neubecker’s colorful and engaging picture book provides readers with a vibrant telling of the formation of New Orleans’s Cajun Navy in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Readers are introduced to various watercraft, including Bennie the airboat, Sal the speedboat, and Bubba the bass boat (each given eyes and a smile that Mike Mulligan fans will recognize, appropriate in this nod to Virginia Lee Burton’s classic vehicle books), which all play important roles in the nascent Cajun Navy’s rescue efforts. Throughout, the traits of the distinct crafts prove important to the various situations (“Bennie thinks: ‘With my fan and shallow draft, I can go where no one else can’”). Cartoonish watercolor, pencil, and digital illustrations lighten what could be a harrowing topic for a young audience. Neubecker’s detailed double-page spreads depict rescuers and survivors of various skin tones, accurately conveying the diversity of New Orleans. Back matter includes general information about hurricanes and hurricane safety, an overview of Hurricane Katrina, and more about the Cajun Navy.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

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