I decided to take it apart to find out what drew me to it. It won several awards, including a Gold in the Parents' Choice Award for Picture Books, and a Junior Library Guild starred review. With some question as to its being classified as fiction or nonfiction, the author's note at the end helps clear that up. It is a fictionalized account of a real resident who lived through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
The book begins with a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., which sets the tone of the book--that no job is inconsequential. Here are some writing tools he used within the story:
The language used is folksy and full of alliteration, as in
...couple with the baby on the balcony
...truck rounded the turn
...kids crowding the corner
...whistled and whirled, hooted and hollered
"Woo! Woo! Wooooo!" "Woo! Woo! Woooo!"
(His call when it was time to stop the truck)
(He strums the side of the truck when time to go)
"Hootie Hoo!" "Hootie Hooo!"
(His very favorite call)
HIS WORDS DANCE ON THE PAGE
Cornelius front flipped to the curb
and flung the bags over his head
behind his back
between his legs
into the truck.
... They (the bags) landed in a perfect pyramid inside the hopper's metal mouth.
... He clapped the covers like cymbals and twirled the tins like tops.
SIGNALING A CHANGE
But then one day, the storm came.
The great city filled with water.
ENDING TIES BACK TO BEGINNING
On page 4, Cornelius speaks to "the silver-haired man with the paper, the couple with the baby on the balcony, and the woman shaking rugs out at her front window."
At the end, we see those same people as they pitch in to help after Katrina.
The art by John Parra is a perfect match for the text in this tale of a folk hero with energy, spirit, magnetism and maybe a little bit of magic thrown in for good measure. I hope to post an interview with the artist in the future. Stay tuned!