Information for this Section:
As you look at the background material and/or author's note in the book you might want to see this information in a summary format. Here's a good visual summary of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.
- Look at the cover of the book. What do you see? What can you infer or predict from the images?
- Discuss the realistic genre briefly. Ask students if they have read any other realistic novels or any other books by this author.
- Has anyone ever been in a hurricane? A flood? Another
- What did you do to prepare? What happened to your house? How
was the experience?
- Use this time to have a discussion with students about their
experiences with natural disasters and their feelings about them.
General Information & Activities
- Consider allowing students to draw or doodle as you read the book to them. Collect all 15 days of their images and make a graphic novel of the story they heard you read to them.
- If you would like to sample some New Orleans food with your students, try one of these recipes. Just check on food allergies with your students.
About the Author
Rodman Philbrick (1951– )
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Philbrick grew up close to the New England coast, where one of his hobbies, fishing, is a prominent regional industry. Although he had completed a novel-length work by the time he was in high school, adulthood for Philbrick meant focusing on the day-to-day necessities of earning a living. Drawing his livelihood from the sea in traditional New England fashion, he worked as both a longshoreman and a boat builder, but still found enough time to complete several novels. Unfortunately those works were not accepted for publication. In 1982, however, the author made his literary debut with Shooting Star, published under the name W. R. Philbrick.
Philbrick has also written using the pen names W. R. Philbrick, William R. Dantz, and Chris Jordan.
The move from adult whodunits to teen fiction happened, as Philbrick recalled, "more or less by accident." It was inspired by a boy from his own neighborhood, the novelist once explained. "I used to see two kids walking down the street near our apartment. One of them was a big guy and he sometimes carried the small kid on his shoulders. Later my wife and I became friends with the small boy's mother. We discovered that the small boy had Morquio Syndrome, which meant he would never grow to be more than three feet tall. He was extraordinarily bright, had a love for words and books, and an interest in sci-fi and Arthurian legends. About a year after his tragic death, I got an idea for a story inspired by his very special personality. The story is fiction, but I never would have written it if I hadn't known the boy himself."
Inspired by the imagination and courage of his young neighbor, Philbrick penned Freak the Mighty, an award-winning work that has been translated into numerous languages and is read in classrooms throughout the world.
As a writer, Philbrick remains constantly busy, reserving his mornings for his craft, and rewarding himself with a chance to go fishing in the afternoon. A voracious reader for many years, he counts among his favorite authors suspense novelist Elmore Leonard, as well as writers Mark Twain and Joseph Conrad. Perhaps because of his roots in the seafaring culture of the New England shoreline, Philbrick also enjoys the sea-going fiction of Patrick O'Brien. He divides his time between a home in Maine and the Florida Keys.