Chris Barton talks with Tamara Ellis Smith

Another Kind of Hurricane, is a debut middle grade novel by Tamara Ellis Smith. It is a moving and powerful novel about two boys – one in Vermont and one in New Orleans – during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Local author Chris Barton has allowed us to share his conversation with Tamara. To keep up with all of his great conversations with authors, and to be eligible to win free books from him — this month it’s Another Kind of Hurricanesign up for his newsletter.

In its starred review of Tamara’s Another Kind of Hurricane, Kirkus says that “Elegant prose and emotional authenticity will make this title sing not only for those who have experienced tragedies, but for everyone who knows the magic that only true friendship can foster.” Newbery honoree Kathi Appelt adds, “This poignant story barrels across the pages and into the reader’s heart.”

Tamara’s good work has gone beyond the writing of this book. A portion of the profits from Another Kind of Hurricane will go directly to nonprofit, and readers all over the country are donating copies of Another Kind of Hurricane and other books to Big Class, another nonprofit. Also, in collaboration with disaster relief organizations and educators, Tamara has developed The Another Kind of Hurricane Project, a community service project for schools. More information about these special projects can be found on Tamara and Chris’s websites.

Chris Barton: What drew you toward the story you tell in Another Kind of Hurricane?

Tamara Ellis Smith: Well, the idea for Hurricane came when my son — who was four at the time — asked me from the back seat of the car, “Who is going to get my pants?”

This was August 2005, and we were driving a few bags of clothing and food to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort. What a great question! Of course I didn’t know, but I began to imagine who would get his pants — and then I began to actually IMAGINE who would get his pants. And I was off and running . . .

(It turns out it was a long run, Chris! Ten years later and Another Kind of Hurricane has finally been born!)

Seriously, though, the marathon-like nature of the journey is part of the answer to your question, because I think what drew me to the story is also what sustained me over all that time: I was — and still am — passionate about how we are all connected; about the power and magic of the friendships that come from connection. I am particularly compelled by the ways we are connected that we can’t initially see; and by the ways we are connected when we don’t even know one another.

CB: What kind of kid do you see Another Kind of Hurricane appealing to the most?

TES: First, I hope the story appeals to kids who have experienced trauma, or who know someone who has. But I also hope it is appealing to kids who like adventure — Hurricane is sort of a road trip meets mystery meets disaster story. Finally, it is my greatest hope that kids who believe — or want to find a way to believe — in the power and magic of friendship will find just that very thing inside my story.


For more about Chris and his books, visit his website. You can sign up for his enewsletter and have his conversations with authors delivered directly to your inbox.

Another Kind of Hurricane is available and on our shelves now.

3 thoughts on “Chris Barton talks with Tamara Ellis Smith

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