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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thuderstorm, written and illustrated by Arthur Geisert. Enchanted Lion Books, 2013. $19.95 all ages

"The book is made up of one continuous illustration that is 415 inches long and unfolds over the course of the book. The story begins here [on the back cover], moves over the front cover, and continues inside without a single break in the illustrations."

It wasn't so long ago in Manitoba that we were cursing the skies for all the water they were raining down upon us! Now, we are hungering for a good soaking rain...isn't that always the way? I think we might be in for one tonight as the skies are quickly darkening.

I have always been a fan of Arthur Geisert's ability to tell a compelling story without any spoken text. In Thunderstorm he does it again. If you don't  know his work, it's worth a trip to the library to sit and savor what he manages to convey through illustrations 'produced from copperplate etchings that were first hand printed and then hand colored using watercolor paints.' AMAZING!

It's one continuous spread, as mentioned above, and an incredibly detailed look at the approaching storm as we can see from the title page. The animals appear to be seeking refuge, as they all head in the same direction. Some foxes are already safe in their dens; others are on their way. The farm truck, loaded with bales, is on the move. The leaves are blowing in the same direction and storm clouds are creating dark skies above.

As the sky continues to darken, lightning strikes and rain is seen in the distance. As spectators we are able to watch all of the action, including what the various animals are doing in preparation. The farm truck, its passengers and load arrive at the shed, which we see in cross-section. A quick check around the farmyard shows a gardener, and a roofing crew working on the garage.

With each turn of the page, we are privy to all that is happening as the storm arrives. The only visible text is a time stamp to allow for the passage of the days' time. Six hours is all it takes to change the setting from one of peaceful, patterned farmlands to the disheartening destruction of strong winds and a tornado. The storm passes, the damage is assessed and work begins to set things right once more.

It is a story about weather's awesome power, and a small community's resilience in the face of it. The cross-sections allow 'readers' a close, personal look at numerous places and things. Children have sharp eyes when it comes to the small details and will be consumed by every page in this
incredible work of art. You will be very happy to be sharing it with them!

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