Mardi Gras Almost Didn’t Come This Year by Kathy Z. Price, illustrated by Carl Joe Williams

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Summary:  Life has been pretty grim since Laia and her family survived Hurricane Katrina.  They’re living in temporary housing, facing a long wait for their home to be rebuilt.  Her dad hasn’t picked up his trumpet since the storm, and her mom no longer sings or dances.  Mardi Gras has always been the joyful centerpiece of the family’s year, but this year it feels wrong to celebrate.  As the festival approaches, though, Laia decides she’s going to make Mardi Gras happen for her younger brother.  She gets out his drum and is ready to play when her father walks in with some calla lilies for the family, as well as seeds to plant when their house is ready.  Then Babyboy starts tooting on his dad’s trumpet, which he’s secretly taught himself to play, and before long the family is out in the street, ready to celebrate.  The story ends on a hopeful note, with the whole family dreaming about the day their house will be rebuilt.  Includes additional information about Katrina and Mardi Gras after the hurricane and during Covid-19.  Also includes a glossary.  48 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  The poetic text and gorgeous mixed media illustrations really capture the spirit of New Orleans and the resilience of surviving a devastating natural disaster.  The author’s note at the end provides excellent information for understanding better the importance of Mardi Gras to the people of New Orleans.

Cons:  Readers who aren’t familiar with New Orleans, the Mardi Gras, and Katrina will need a lot of background information to fully understand the story.

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