Phillis Gershator







About me




Hoping for a

by Phillis Gershator

Little Bell Caribbean
(Editorial Campana), 2011

From the book jacket:
    Oh, boy! Hurricane coming! Just what Horace was hoping for. But he isn't prepared for how scary a real hurricane can be. His mother tells him funny stories while the storm rages. But once the storm and the stories are over, there's a blown apart house to rebuild, a pesky sister to comfort, and what about the missing hummingbirds? Sometimes it takes a disaster to find out what's important––and what to hope for.

A little about the book:
    Once when I told a cousin how scary a hurricane really is, she said, "But truthfully, it's exciting, too, isn't it?"
    I hadn't thought of it that way, not when roofs blow away, things get wet and moldy, there's no running water or electricity, and there are long lines for everything, from food to gas. Plus, it's hard work to rebuild. But yes, I could well imagine a child hoping for something big to happen, especially a natural disaster. And that's just what third grader Horace does––he hopes for a hurricane.
    Horace is a little like me. He hates dodge ball. And he's a little like some other children I know, too. He likes to daydream. He likes to hear stories. He likes to draw pictures and run races. And he likes to track an upcoming storm on a hurricane map.


    Hoping for a Hurricane is being published for distribution in the Virgin Islands' summer reading program for ages 7 to 9. So here are some summertime activities to go along with the book:


1) Horace would rather play any game but dodge ball. What is your favorite sport? Why? What is your least favorite?

2) The stories about Anansi, Brer Rabbit, and Coyote are called trickster tales. Tricksters aren’t always very nice characters. They can be greedy and mean. Sometimes they even lie and steal. So what makes these stories so popular? Are tricksters heros?

3) Another kind of story is called a pourquoi tale. (Pourquoi is French for “Why?”) Why does an elephant have a trunk? Why do mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears? Why is there a rabbit on the moon? Pourquoi tales answer these questions, though not scientifically. Do you know what really made that rabbit shadow on the moon?

4) In the story about the tortoise and the mongoose, the mongoose kills a snake. Mongooses were originally brought to the island to get rid of rats, but they killed snakes instead. Now there are hardly any snakes left. Renata Platenberg, ecologist and biologist at the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the V.I., says: “The mongoose was introduced, but the snake has been around here for around 28 million years or so. What a shame if something that's survived every hurricane, earthquake, tectonic shift for millions of years totally disappears 100 years after the introduction of a non-beneficial mammalian predator.” What might you do if you found a boa in the bush? (Hint: call the office of Fish and Wildlife.)

5) How does Horace’s family cope with the hurricane? Who keeps calm? Who is frightened? Who is kind? Who gets cranky, sad, impatient? Who becomes more generous? Who is thankful to be alive?

6) Loss and destruction follow a hurricane, but when the hummingbirds return and Carnival is around the corner, what do these happy events tell us?

7) How can we help to prevent hurricane damage? Why are wetlands important? And building codes? And weather forecasts?


1) Draw before and after pictures about an event in your life.

2) Pick a spot on a map. Find its longitude and latitude.

3) Read a trickster story starring Anansi, Brer Rabbit, or Coyote.

4) Write your own trickster story!

5) Make a list of essential supplies and prepare an emergency disaster kit.

6) Stretch, jump, jog. Get ready for your favorite sport!