For Ages
9 to 12

"Beautiful, vivid writing and a power-packed plot . . . I truly loved it."--Lauren Tarshis, bestselling author of the I SURVIVED series

"Awesome. Super-intense, suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat stuff."--Max Brallier, New York Times bestselling author of the LAST KIDS ON EARTH series
A major hurricane is raging across the southern United States, and two unsuspecting kids are about to have the adventure of a lifetime! Perfect for kids who love high-stakes plots and natural disaster movies, and anyone interested in extreme weather! And coming in January 2022, don't miss another epic adventure, SNOW STRUCK.

A little rain and wind don't worry Alejo--they're just part of life at the beach. As his padrino says, as long as there are birds in the waves, it's safe. When people start evacuating, though, Alejo realizes things might be worse than he thought. And they are. A hurricane is headed straight for Puerto Rico.

Emily's brother, Elliot, has been really sick. He can't go outside their New Orleans home, so Emily decides to have an adventure for him. She's on a secret mission to the tiny island Elliot loves. She's not expecting to meet up with an injured goose or a shy turtle. And nothing has prepared her for Megastorm Valerie. Soon Alejo and Emily will be in Valerie's deadly path. Who will survive?

An Excerpt fromStorm Blown

San Juan, Puerto Rico



June 10--11:00 a.m.



“Alejandro!” the old man shouted, his voice small in the rising wind. “Las sillas--the chairs, they’re blowing away!”


A turquoise lounger slid across the slick deck of the San Juan Pilastro Resort and Casino, its waterproof fabric stretched and filled like the sails of a ship. Alejandro ran after it, his skinny shoulders squared against the wind and rain as his padrino squinted at the approaching storm. Most of the guests had already evacuated, cutting their vacations short as weather advisories rolled in with the clouds. The few who had hoped for the best and ignored the warnings were holed up in their rooms, enjoying complimentary cocktails and wondering if it was too late to leave.


It was too late.


Just minutes before, Alejo and his mother’s uncle--Padrino Nando--had joined the hotel staff in the lobby for an emergency meeting. They’d stood near the doors with the other groundskeepers, not wanting to track mud onto the marble floors as the manager informed them that the bad weather they’d been having all week had been upgraded to a tropical storm.


Tropical Storm Valerie.


Nando had laughed and clapped his hands.


It was a name like one of their tourists, another Hawaiian-shirted guest with no real love for the island. But Valerie was nothing to laugh about--all flights out of Isla Verde were grounded until the storm blew over, and most of the birds were already gone. The loons, the geese, the herons, and even the gulls--they were smart like that. Except for a handful of purple-black cormorants that were fighting the wind for fun, the swirling gray skies were empty.


Padrino Nando smiled as Alejandro dragged the runaway lounger back to the others, tying them all down with a bright nylon rope. Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, not so very far from shore, winds were gusting over forty miles per hour. “Faster than traffic,” their manager had said. Sometime that night or the following morning, those winds and the rain would hit San Juan and the streets would flood and end the tourist season early.


Or everything would be fine.


It all depended on how angry the white peaks were, out in the surf.


“Alejo!” Nando shouted. “Look!”


The palm trees lining the Pilastro’s white sand beach bent toward the resort, their leafy crowns catching the wind. Beyond them, the cormorants took turns dive-bombing the roiling white waves. With the sky so gray and the sea so gray and the rain running down their faces, it was hard to tell what was earth and what was air.


Nando squeezed Alejo’s shoulder with one wrinkled hand as they watched the cormorants fish, shading his eyes with the other to better see their long necks piercing the surf like arrows from the heavens. No matter what happened, the storm would be gone in a few days--spinning up to Bermuda or threading its way into the Gulf of Mexico, toward the oil rigs and refineries off the muddy coasts of Louisiana and Texas.


Padrino Nando didn’t care where the storm went, only that the cormorants were full and happy.


As long as there were birds in the waves, San Juan would be fine.




New Orleans



June 10--2:00 p.m.



By the time Sam Gribley developed a taste for frog soup, Emily had finally settled into her book. It hadn’t been easy. Sam’s story was written so long ago that she was borrowing her mom’s childhood copy of My Side of the Mountain. They’d both had it assigned for summer reading, twenty years apart, and the pages were brittle and yellow. Emily traced her finger over an ancient crease, her vision blurring at the edges as she folded and unfolded the same corner her mother had dog-eared when she was a kid. She tried not to think about Elliot and the surgery, and her dad working on the oil rig while her mom worried herself sick . . . but it was all too much.


She couldn’t concentrate.


The words just wouldn’t stick in her head.


It didn’t help that their apartment was so small.


Between the low groan of Elliot’s humidifier and the cable news blasting from the living room, she’d had to stop three times and start from the beginning. The thought of starting all over again was too much for Emily to bear, so she chewed her lip and turned the page. Sam--the main character--had run away from home and was camping in a hollowed-out tree . . . but Emily had to admit that he was doing okay for himself.


Maybe even better than she was.


Emily had been living on fast food for the past month, and her mouth watered as she reread the recipe for Sam’s favorite meal: acorn flour, water-lily buds, and wild onions served in a polished turtle-shell bowl. If you left out the frog legs, it’d be perfect . . . but even without them, there was no way she could get any of that stuff at their grocery store. The Winn-Dixie they went to on Saturday mornings had flickering fluorescent lights and a security guard who was always sipping from a quart of pink, flavored milk.


It wasn’t a farmer’s market, that was for sure.


Emily’s mom cursed at the news while Emily daydreamed about handpicked mussels sizzling over an open fire and the crunch of fresh green vegetables. Soon they’d start shopping at the fancy stores again, the ones they’d gone to before Elliot got sick.


The ones where happy people got their groceries.


Those stores had everything.


For the fourth time that morning, Emily closed her book, holding her place with a finger. It was too hard to stay focused while she was blinking back tears. “I’m fine,” she whispered, but the tremble in her voice gave her away. Even though everyone said Elliot was going to be fine, Emily felt sad--and the apartment was dark and cold, which made her sadness feel more real.

Under the Cover