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Mardi Gras Almost Didn't Come This Year

Illustrated by Carl Joe Williams



About The Book

In this gorgeous and lyrical picture book, a family finds hope and healing in a Mardi Gras celebration after Hurricane Katrina changed their world.

That zany beat in our feet is ‘cause of Pop-Pop, our pa. He sure loved himself some Mardi Gras! “It’s Mardi Gras weather!” he’d shout out whenever, blaring his horn, tilting it high. Mamma’d laugh ‘til she cried. Hands on hips, she’d sashay barefoot, fancy-dancy of the ball.

But Pop-Pop hasn’t played his horn, not since the storm.

This vibrant and moving story shows a family struggling to rebuild their home and their spirits following Hurricane Katrina. A young brother and sister aren’t sure how their displaced family can move on until one very special Mardi Gras gives them and their parents new hope and belief in a beautiful future.

About The Author

Kathy Z. Price made her debut in the children’s book field with the publication of The Bourbon Street Musicians. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. Kathy was awarded an Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Scholarship with the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, and received a scholarship award for the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Visit her at

About The Illustrator

Carl Joe Williams was born in uptown New Orleans. At fourteen, he was accepted into The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) where he received his formal training. Williams’s work has been displayed in several venues throughout the United States, including “Journeys,” an installation at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and Williams’s “Sculptural Trees” installation on the median of Veterans Boulevard. Visit him at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (February 22, 2022)
  • Length: 48 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534444256
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Lexile ® AD720L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Raves and Reviews

* "Price sensitively explores the lasting impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans through a view of one Black Louisiana family. . . . Mixed-media illustrations by artist Williams, making his debut, give overlapping meanings to the characters’ conflicting emotions—sorrow and celebration, frustration and hope—in layered, saturated backdrops that commemorate the reality and festivity of life in the Big Easy."

– Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

* "This startlingly resonant story of resilience, using an arresting combination of story, images, and rhythm and rhyme, centers on one family right before the 2006 Mardi Gras in New Orleans. . . . The illustrations, done in mixed media, painting, and collage, are as powerful as the story, moving from an ominous-looking fried egg of a sun through total washout during the storm to a trumpet-shaped cloud as the family regains hope. . . . Inspiring."

– Booklist, Starred Review

"Price’s lyrical text paints a rich picture of New Orleans and becomes downright musical as the story progresses. Williams’ stunning mixed-media illustrations incorporate colorful geometric abstraction, including concentric circles representing the sun, bursts of musical sound, and halos around the characters’ heads. . . . A moving story infused with the spirit of New Orleans that sounds a note of creative hope for the city’s future."

– Kirkus Reviews

Awards and Honors

  • Ezra Jack Keats Nominee

Resources and Downloads

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