Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach
by Brenda Woods
Penguin, 2011. 136 pgs. Fiction.

Not a place but a person, Saint Louis Armstrong Beach plays the clarinet, and plays it well. He is trying to earn money for a really nice clarinet by working as a street musician in New Orleans where he lives with his mother, a nurse, and his father, a chef. The neighborhood has a dog--a black lab Saint has named Shadow, whom Saint would like for his own. So when Hurricane Katrina strikes and Saint is leaving town with his Uncle's family, he runs away and goes back to the city to find Shadow. His neighbor Miz Moran saves his life, and then he saves hers even though Shadow has shown up by then and manages to puncture the rubber raft Miz Moran has in her attack. His dead grandfather warns him in a dream to go to the Jazz Shack instead of the Superdome, and then Shadow helps his parents find him, which is a good thing for Shadow because up until then he has been a worthless nuisance. All's well that ends well, though, and Saint L. A. Beach is a fine, companionable young voice sharing the atmosphere and joys of the Big Easy and the resilience of her citizens.

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