The Longest Storm by Dan Yaccarino. Minedition, 2021. 9781662650475
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? “A storm came to our town. It was unlike any storm we’d ever seen.” A father, three children, and a dog are forced inside their home together and find it hard to occupy their time. Soon boredom and irritation overtake the household, leading to bickering, sloppy rooms, and an awkward self-haircut. Dad loses his temper, and everyone retreats to their separate bedrooms and stops talking to each other. When thunder and lightning cause a nighttime power outage, one by one, the kids (and the dog) make their way to Dad’s room and the family begins to reconcile. In the morning, things are better, and even though the storm still rages, something has changed, and hope for the future is restored. The sun eventually comes out, and the family heads outside to begin cleaning up.
This is a book that can be appreciated on many levels. The reality of the storm is open to interpretation: is it an actual storm? Is it a metaphor for the COVID-19 pandemic? Is it, as is implied in some scenes, raging grief over the fairly recent loss of the mother? In any event, readers can certainly relate to the challenges of this family’s situation, and empathize with all of the characters in their turn. The story is told in brief, concise sentences, allowing the illustrations to take center stage. Dan Yaccarino’s trademark bold style of black line drawings filled with flat color is a perfect fit for this story. The cartoonish images and facial expressions tell so much, and funny or sweet details of the family’s daily existence keep the sad story from becoming too sappy.
Anything you did not like about the book? No
To whom would you recommend this book? It may be aimed at primary grades but would serve as a great choice for teachers and caregivers as a springboard for discussion about the difficulties of the last 18 months, especially when paired with a book like John Rocco’s Blackout or LeUyen Pham’s Outside Inside.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books or special collections (bibliotherapy)
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: October 28, 2021