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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Waiting Out the Storm, written by Joann Early Macken and illustrated by Susan Gaber. Candlewick, Random House. 2010. $20.00 ages 4 and up

"They burst from the cloud,
skipping and leaping and laughing out loud.
They spin and they tumble. They bounce on the breeze.
They dance to the tune of the wind in the trees."

The past few days have brought their share of dreary, windy weather to what has been a sunny, warm spring in Manitoba. We have had our share of warnings about approaching storms but none have lived up to the forecast, so far!

The coming storm in this story is evident on the title page. A young girl and her mother gather meadow flowers while low gray clouds are seen in the distance. The wind picks up and the child is concerned with the noises she is hearing. The whistling wind tells of the storm's approach. Is it the wind that invites the rain? Once they are safely home the young one hears the rumble of thunder and her mother explains that it is a sound, not to be feared. While lightning flashes, there are other concerns. What will happen to the birds and animals as the storm wields its power? Mom explains that shelter will be found from the falling rain and howling winds. Just as they are tucked safely inside their house to wait out the storm, the animals will find a place of safety, too.

Tomorrow, they will all enjoy the sunshine that follows rain, the puddles created by the storm and the wonder of it all.

I love the questions and answers that Joann Macken uses to tell this reassuring tale of a summer storm and the fear it can inspire. The child's questions and comments are featured in a font that is bigger than the italicized font used for the mother's soft reassurances. It is this back and forth dialogue that brings calm and shows the reader (and listener) that a storm can be natural and beautiful. The softly muted acrylic illustrations provide a quiet tone to the book, while also showing the power in the resulting storm.

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