The Storm In The Barn


It is a miserable summer for Jack Clark and his family. As if the parched land and dying cattle and "dust dementia" aren't enough, Jack is the target of local bullies and his dad's frustration. Jack spots something in the Talbot's Barn, but that's off limits. Since when has that ever stopped a young boy? But what if it turns out to be bigger than him?

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

This graphic novel offers young readers and dormant readers a wonderful way to grasp US history.

Content Awareness Factors:

None, really. I would liked to have had a short bibliography of other sources where young readers could learn more.

Little Kid Reaction

At first my daughter rushed through the panels, but after we started adding some out-loud reading she started to pay closer attention to the visual story as it unfolded. The "evil" rain captivated her.

Parent Reaction

Fabulous. I often have a hard time with wordless books, but this was an excellent balance ... and an incredibly valuable way to teach history to kids. The mix of full-color, partial, and black-and-white sketches add depth to the story and helped illustrate (no pun intended) the starkness of the time. I thought the dad was overdone, but I suspect he fit with the times and views of 1937.

Type of Book:
This is a lightly-texted graphic novel that offers an historical fiction account of the Dust Bowl in Kansas (1937).
Educational Themes:

Even with few words, there is a lot to explore in this book. It offers history, insight into the midwest in the 1930s, and how people deal with conflict or stress. There is a bullying element, but it is really secondary to the other options in educational content. For kids who are very visual, it is a chance to look at images and talk about what you see (feelings, what do you think they're thinking, etc)

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
9 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
8 to 12
Age of child:
Read with and by a 9-year-old girl.
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow, at least. This is a book you can read cover to cover and then leaf through again.

Title The Storm in the Barn
Author Matt Phelan
Publisher Candlewick © 2009
Illustrators Matt Phelan
ISBN 9780763636180
Material Hard Cover
Cost $24.99
Genres Family, Fable | Folklore, Historical Fiction, Comics | Graphic Novels, Life Lessons, 1920s & 1930s
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