When the Storm Comes by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Yaeeun Yoo. Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399546099, 2020
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? In this colorful picture book, a coastal community prepares for an approaching storm. We see all kinds of people and animal families sniffing the air, finding safe spaces and getting ready. Ashman’s rhyming text gives the story a singsong quality that helps soothe anxieties about what’s to come. Everyone has something to do: Mom counts canned goods, dad checks the flashlight and a little girl gets out candles (while a gray cat snoozes.) Fishermen tie up their boats while a family brings in lawn furniture. We get to observe three different families who seem to be neighbors: a white family, a brown family and an older white couple. When the storm blows, they hunker down together for the night, playing board games. Once the weather clears, they work together the next day to clear debris and put everything back for a giant picnic. There’s also pictures that address how animals weather the tempest: birds roost under eaves and whales dive down deep away from land. The realistic and slightly retro art is done in soft pencil over digitally created drawings. Most of the illustrations are large and bleed right to the edge with a nice attention to details on familiar objects, like a swirling rooftop weathervane and bell buoys rocking on the waves. I did really like the juxtaposition of the animal and human families.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No. It’s a very simple, idyllic town; the island (?) doesn’t even seem to have any roads! So not exactly realistic, but some young readers might puzzle over that detail.
To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a good choice for children who have questions or anxieties about disaster preparation. It would make a good read aloud, especially for coastal communities. It would be interesting to follow up with some research on how specific communities and animals prepare for bad weather.
Who should buy this book? Preschool, elementary and public libraries.
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: June 3, 2020