The Longest Storm – written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, minedition US (a division of Astra Publishing), 9781662650475, 2021
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? Yaccarino’s masterful illustration skills take center stage in this metaphorical picture book about loss and trauma. A family is trapped together in a house by a tremendous storm. We can see everyone getting on each others’ nerves; they feel bored and hemmed in by each other and the walls. Dad’s face grows increasingly unshaven, the dog howls, and the littlest girl even gives herself a really bad haircut. Eventually, everyone trudges off to bed but then they’re jolted awake by a house-shaking bolt of lightning. One by one, they creep into Dad’s room for comfort and in the morning, something has changed. The family isn’t perfect, but they’re more willing to give each other comfort and a bit of grace. The “storm” could be interpreted as Covid quarantine, but we also see the oldest daughter thumbing through photos of a smiling woman who’s not in the house with them. So, a death? Yaccarino leaves things open ended.
I loved the illustrations. A mix of flat bright colors with occasional wood texture tell the story. Yaccarino uses gestural, black strokes to outline his characters, their furniture, and their house and moves seamlessly between full-page spreads and vignettes. Unobtrusive text in italics moves easily around the page, sometimes black, sometimes white, sometimes picking up a color from the illustrations. I appreciated the characters’ transparent emotions. Although things are better after the storm, they’re still not perfect and you can see that the family still has a ways to go before the tempest passes. All the characters are White.
Anything you didn’t like about it? For some readers, this book will be too subtle although others may appreciate its elasticity. It’s a book that invites re-reading. I was initially confused by the title as I thought it would be about an actual storm and was puzzled by the length of the event and the family’s lack of preparation.
To whom would you recommend this book? This book may find its niche in bibliotherapy collections or social workers’ offices. With its large, bright images, it could be a read aloud to stimulate discussion about the normal process of navigating human relations. For a book that documents the quarantine more concretely, I would recommend Keeping the City Going (2021) by Brian Floca.
Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books or possibly in a parenting section
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: 6/28/2021
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