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Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans
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Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  625 ratings  ·  145 reviews
In New Orleans, there lived a man who saw the streets as his calling, and he swept them clean. He danced up one avenue and down another and everyone danced along. The old ladies whistled and whirled. The old men hooted and hollered. The barbers, bead twirlers, and beignet bakers bounded behind that one-man parade. But then came the rising Mississippi—and a storm greater th ...more
Hardcover, 44 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Chronicle Books (first published July 28th 2015)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  625 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Amanda Schreiber
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Phil Bildner does it again! This book shares the spirit of New Orleans before and after hurricane Katrina. In this folk tale like story, Bildner tells the tale of real-life trash collector Cornelius and amazing work ethic. Filled with figurative language like alliteration & repetition this book would make an amazing read aloud! Perfect mentor text for figurative language, folk tales, theme & as a tradebook for Social Studies!

A true treasure for any teacher or classroom library!
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A great tool in introducing elements of folk tales. Quote by MLK in the very beginning is a powerful launching into the life of Cornelius Washington. Author's notes are valuable to share with students after reading. Website link included in note would be welcomed by students as an opportunity to try their hand at writing folktales. There's just a lot to use within the beautiful tribute to Cornelius and New Orleans. ...more
Edward Sullivan
A beautifully told and illustrated story about a contemporary folk hero with an infectious, irrepressible spirit.
Is there ever going to be a Chronicle picture book I just don't care for? Well, not if it's a true story about a heroic and beloved garbageman in New Orleans. 900 stars for paying tribute to a real champion, capturing the best city and providing the opportunity to yell "Hootie Hoooooooo" in storytime. ...more
Aliza Werner
Based on the real Cornelius Washington, a sanitation worker who worked and lived in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina. Pair with Drowned City by Don Brown (NF) and Inside Out In The Middle of Nowhere (Fic).
Greg Eyman
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
Note: I found this Contemporary American Folk Story in e-book form.

Sadly, when I think of American Folklore or Tall Tales, I immediately conjure up the image of Johnny Appleseed or… maybe, Calamity Jane? It is a real strain to think of contemporary folk tales that my students can directly relate to -- and might even look like them! That’s why I was overjoyed when I found this e-book/picture book that chronicles the fantastical story of an African American folk hero: Marvelous Cornelius.

Many time
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
"For far too long water, water everywhere. A gumbo of mush and mud."

Author Phil Bildner, introduces us to the sanitation worker Cornelius Washington. He became a hero and symbolized the energy and spirit of New Orleans. The story details how when Hurricane Katrina struck the city, New Orleans suffered destruction and desperation but fought through and rose again. The author using alliteration, repetition, and exaggeration to emulate the American folk tradition. There are plenty of elements to n
Laurel Tom
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'm retroactively adding this book so it counts towards my book goal for the month/year! I read it two weeks ago when I was looking for book recommendations that are readily available through the local library. This was one of them.

I liked that it could be a way to introduce the kids to Louisiana culture and nonfiction. I think it would've been a good read-along book with relevant activities (Mardi Gras) tied to it, but I didn't end up doing that. It wouldn't have happened anyway given that Texa
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is AWESOME. Talk about a city coming together to rebuild... a different tragedy, in a different year - but so applicable to so many catastrophes we've seen in the past year. ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Cornelius rose.
He dried his eyes.
For his spirit and will were waterproof."

Beautiful pictures and prose. My eyes welled up. Perfect for a musical storytime, a discussion on community, and an introduction to the tough stuff (natural disasters - Katrina in particular for this book).
Luke Steere
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A simple historical parable illuminated by the MLK quote about class: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'” This book understands the difference between labor and work. ...more
As the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, bringing with it media coverage and reflections on the storm and its destruction, this is a lovely tribute to the resilience of New Orleans and its citizens. Relying on the folk tale tradition to tell his story, the author introduces readers to Cornelius Washington, called Marvelous Cornelius in the story, a garbage collector who takes to heart Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s admonition that whatever job we do, we should do it well. Marvelo ...more

The last week in August 2005 a nation, admittedly persons around the world, watched with growing alarm as a force of nature spun toward the southern edge of the United States. On the 29th it reached landfall along the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina stretched some four hundred miles with sustained winds reaching between one hundred and one hundred forty miles per hour. The loss of life, the loss of a way of living and personal property was catastrophic.

One man, Cornelius Washington, in the wake of
Nancy Kotkin
Text: 5 stars
Illustrations: 5 stars

Picture book biography, stretched as a bit of a tall tale, based on the life of a sanitation worker in New Orleans. Contrasts life in that city before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Though it is mentioned in an author's note in the back of the book, I find it odd that the hurricane is not specifically named in the book's text. But the text manages to say a lot in few words, and is enhanced through word play. The illustration style evokes the spirit of Ne
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"And those spotless streets, oh, how they sparkled." A wonderful picture book about, Marvelous Cornelius, a sanitation worker from New Orleans who took pride in keeping the streets as beautiful as its atmosphere. After Hurricane Katrina, neighbors & relief helpers from various states joined in helping to make the streets as beautiful as its community spirit.
I wish they would have included an actual picture of Mr. Cornelius in the authors notes.
This is a great book about a sanitation worker who worked with determination and style. He waved to everyone he saw and would dance in the streets as he picked up the garbage. He was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and how it ruined New Orleans but as he worked the community and volunteers helped him clean up.
Marvelous Cornelius is the story of a charismatic garbage collector in New Orleans, LA. He was know for his showy style of collecting the city's trash. After Hurricane Katrina he joined in the herculean effort to clean up the city.

This is a fantastic way to introduce the story of Katrina to youngsters not able to quite grasp the concept of a category 5 hurricane.
Janet Beasley
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excited to meet this author at the Texas Book Festival! My first graders loved this book too.
Kimberly Sabatini
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
This is one of those books that gives me warm fuzzies and makes me so hopeful that there is so much heart and soul still out in the world. A wonderful and worthwhile read for everyone. <3
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is marvelous!

The story of Cornelius, while fictionalized, shows the spirit of New Orleans. That spirit was not quenched by Hurricane Katrina, but, rather, became stronger.
Alyssa Tabor
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Love this! Might work for integrity for elementary students.
Sunah Chung
Marvelous Cornelius was a street sweeper in New Orleans. He loved his job to clean the street in New Orleans, singing a song and dancing when he picked up bags of trash and threw them into the hopper, which is a container for trash. When the hurricane Katrina passed New Orleans, destroying the city and leaving ruins on the street, he stood up and dried his eyes to reconstruct the city by doing his daily routines. With help from the neighboring communities and volunteers from other states, the ci ...more
Paris Chanel
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, childrens, folklore, nola, 2019
“Even if it’s called your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry.”

That portion of the opening quote found in this beautifully illustrated book, Marvelous Cornelius, is from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 sermon entitled “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.”

“You know, they used to tell us in Hollywood that in order for a movie to be co
Megan Parris
This book is amazing! I loved the illustrations and descriptive langauge. It does very well bringing the personality of New Orleans alive. It is a quick read, but it leaves an impression on you. Cornelius is such an incredible character. I was cheering for him the entire time I was reading this book! I just wanted to jump into this story and help Cornelius clean. This book I will read over and over again.

This book is based off of a true person and real event. You could read this book and spend t
Amanda Vander hyde
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is really cute. While it is based on true events, and I am sure that this man worked very hard to clean up New Orleans after a hurricane, it was approached in a slightly whimsical way so that it seemed that he cleaned it up quickly and without anyone else's help. This was effective for showing how important this person was and how well they worked to help out, but it seemed a little more like a superhero story rather than a true story about someone using their work to help change someo ...more
Malia Chase
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This is a true story told about a man named Cornelius who lived in New Orleans. He swept the streets clean of garbage. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans him and the whole community work together to clean up the city.
I chose this book because I have yet to read a book based on a true story about the difference one person made in the after math of a hurricane. It's a very original storyline for a children's book.
Genre is non-fiction and grade level is preK-K, grade 1-2.
I would use this in th
In New Orleans, there lived a man who saw the streets as his calling, and he swept them clean. He danced up one avenue and down another and everyone danced along. The old ladies whistled and whirled. The old men hooted and hollered. The barbers, bead twirlers, and beignet bakers bounded behind that one-man parade. But then came the rising Mississippi—and a storm greater than anyone had seen before. In this heartwarming book about a real garbage man, Phil Bildner and John Parra tell the inspiring ...more
Daniel Thompson
I love how this book turned something tragic in Hurricane Katrina, and turned into something bright and positive. The hurricane was horrible but the will that people showed to help clean up the city was inspiring . I think it is a great message that the author is sending. He is teaching young children to help those in need when they need it, and to always do good for other people. This book is inspiring in every aspect, and I think teachers could use this book to teach thee valuable lessons to t ...more
Rachael Fricke
I loved every minute of this book! Such a quick read, but the illustrations and story line are captivating. It tells a tale of a man from New Orleans who kept the streets clean, was proud of his work, did it well, and entertained the by standers by doing so. He clean the streets and collected trash until Hurricane Katrina hit, then he helped to clean up the city and instead of having bystanders watch him work, people around the town pitched in to help clean as well. Cute little story with a grea ...more
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Phil Bildner is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books for kids. His latest book is the groundbreaking, #OwnVoices middle grade novel, A High Five for Glenn Burke. He is the author of many children’s picture books including the Margaret Wise Brown Prize winning Marvelous Cornelius, the Texas Bluebonnet Award winning Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy, Martina & Chrissie, Twenty-One Elepha ...more

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