Cyclone Bola, Gisborne, 1988 by Kath Beattie, Scholastic NZ
The latest title in Scholastic’s My New Zealand Story series, this diary-style story looks at the devastation wrought by Cyclone Bola in the Gisborne city and rural areas. The cyclone is well within my memory but I have to confess I had little recall of how bad it was (yes, I am an Aucklander!). A page of statistics in the book gives some idea of the destruction: 4000 people evacuated, 56,000 hectares of farmland damaged, 300 houses damaged or relocated, 17 bridges totally or partially destroyed, and millions of dollars’ worth of animal stock killed. The story is told by Amy Dyer, who’s about twelve when she gets sent to live on a family farm near Gisborne while her parents are doing a yacht trip. There’s some mildly interesting material as the farm setting is described and Amy details how she’s getting on at a different school (she has to do research and write essays for her previous teacher in Auckland). The only hassle seems to be that there’s a cyclone brewing in the area near Vanuatu where her parents are, and Amy is worried about them. Of course a few days later the cyclone hits New Zealand – and Amy and her great-uncle and aunt are marooned in the farmhouse while the rain thunders on the roof and the wind howls and the flood rises. The descriptions of the experience are vivid, and obviously based on first-hand information. Another useful title in this excellent series – I’m sure teachers will be glad to include it in their studies of disasters.
ISBN 978 1 77543 100 8, RRP $18.50 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman