Mardi Gras Almost Didn’t Come This Year (Kathy Z. Price)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the stunning Mardi Gras Almost Didn’t Come This Year, written by Kathy Z. Price and illustrated by Carl Joe Williams, a moving tale of trauma, recovery, and the magic of Mardi Gras.

In post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, Lala, her younger brother Babyboy, and her Mamma and Pop-Pop are recovering from the losses of the floods, including the house Lala’s father built. Months later, when Mardi Gras – the family’s favorite time of year – rolls around, Lala and Babyboy are discouraged by their Mamma’s dour mood and the fact that their father hasn’t played his trumpet since the storm. After a failed attempt to get Mamma in the Mardi Gras spirit, the two wander the wreckage of their old neighborhood, feeling forlorn over the many changes in the last year. That night, after a dream of the hurricane and of Mardi Gras past, Lala makes a decision: this year, her family needs Mardi Gras more than ever – and she’s going to make it happen.

Powerful. The many striking elements of Price’s lyrical, rhythmic free verse text and Williams’s electric mixed-media illustrations weave together to tell a grounded story that celebrates a culture, a city, and the power of hope. Reading Price’s words aloud are a feast for the eyes and ears, telling a deeply emotional story with authentic New Orleans vernacular and cadence, immersing the reader in Lala’s world. The incredibly atmospheric artwork deftly captures each moment of sorrow and joy through exquisite use of color, movement, and character design. Backmatter includes an author’s note and glossary that enriches the story even further. The length is probably best for elementary readers and older, as JJ was feeling a little antsy towards the end, but she loved the incredible colors and musical text. This one is a love letter to Mardi Gras and New Orleans, and a beautiful message on finding joy in hard times. Baby Bookworm!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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