Monday, February 13, 2006

Storm Is Coming! by Heather Tekavec

Storm Is Coming!
by Heather Tekavec
Illustrated by Margaret Spengler
Ages: 3-6
Topics: animals, farms, weather

The old farmer tells his dog "'Storm is coming! We'd better get the animals safely in the barn!'" Dog springs into action and rounds up the sheep barking that "'Storm is coming!'". The sheep head for the barn and warn Duck who, in turn, tells the herd of cows, who join in the stampede. Cat, who was napping in the barn, wakes up and asks what all the noise is about. "'Storm is coming!'" the animals tell the cat "'And who is Storm?'"the Cat meowed. The animals all look at each other and then decide Storm must be very big, mean, and scary. "'Wake me when he gets here'" says the Cat and goes back to sleep. The frightened animals wait for Storm to arrive but only see the sky turn dark, the wind blow, and the sky flash - all good things to keep Storm from finding them. Then suddenly, they hear a "thump, thump, thump" coming towards the barn ...but it's only the old farmer telling them its safe to come out.

This clever story makes a delightful read-aloud that preschoolers will love. There's lots of repetition, familiar animals, excitement and humor. Younger children will laugh at the sheeps' bleaty dialog "he must be-e-e very sca-a-ry" and older children will be amused by the animals misunderstanding of Storm. The suspense is strong enough to hold the attention without being scary and the Cat's kick-back attitude provides welcome relief after the other animals' panic. In addition to the educative value of describing the characteristics of a storm, there's also Dog's imaginative and optimistic take on how these characteristics are beneficial: the rain will cover their tracks, the lightening will blind Storm, the thunder will scare Storm away. These potentially scary things all become a protective cause for celebration.

Spenglers' pastel illustrations are bright and exciting and really move the story along. Each double-paged ilustration faultlessly supports the narrative, whether it depicts a big outdoor scene of all the animals rushing to the barn or close-ups of the animals nervous faces. Spengler has an uncanny ability to make her simple animal faces and eyes very expressive. Her animals are winsome and whacky -- hiding their eyes, celebrating wildly, scratching their heads -- rounded and soft.

Storm Is Coming! provides a great marriage of art and narrative that will entertain both children and adults. I also recommend What's That Awful Smell?, another story with the animals from Storm Is Coming! in which the misguided animals try to get rid of an awful smell in the barn.

Storm Is Coming! was Heather Tekavac's first published book. A former preschool teacher, Tekavac lives in British Columbia with her family. She has also written another story about the farm animals from Storm Is Coming! called What's That Awful Smell? .

Margaret Spengler has a B.F.A and has illustrated many children's picture books including Clickety Clack by Rob and Amy Spence (read my review) and the Dawdle Duck books by Toni Buzzeo.



Blogger Kelly said...

I LOVE the cover of this one, Catherine!

11:26 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Kelly,

Yes, I love the use of scale. I'm a big fan of Spengler - wonderful illustrations for younger children.

9:55 PM  

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