Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Children’s Book Review, Thunderstorm Dancing

Children’s Book Review by Susan Stephenson,

Thunderstorm Dancing is a children’s picture book written by Katrina Germein, illustrated by Judy Watson, and published by Allen and Unwin, 2015.

From the publisher:

When a sunny day at the beach turns stormy, a little girl runs for cover. Her daddy and brothers are wild in the wind and lightning, and her poppy is as loud as thunder. They fill the house with stamping and crashing while Granny plays piano to their riotous thunderstorm dancing... until the storm passes and they all fall down. Then, in the stillness, the girl is ready to play. What will she be, now that the rain has stopped and there's a glimmer of sunlight?

Germein has gifted us with lyrical prose carefully constructed to create tension. Each word contributes to the intense drama of an approaching storm, and yet this is all language kids will understand and relate to. What fun they will have using words like “flicking and flashing - tricking and dashing - crackling zap! - sizzling snap!” in their own poems to create word pictures and sound bites for an audience!

The choice of Watson as illustrator for this enthusiastic text was an inspired one. She has chosen unusual backgrounds and perspectives to nudge us toward an understanding of point of view. There’s lots to think about in each illustration. How has Watson used colour to communicate with us? How has she showed movement? What artistic techniques has she used throughout the book? Look carefully at the lines and decide what effect they have.

Germein has used lots of metaphors in the story: Granny is the sun, Mum is the rain. Can kids create metaphors about their own family members?

I love picture books that celebrate the sheer joy of playing with words. Watson’s illustrations make Thunderstorm Dancing a visual feast as well. Do seek out this wonderful children’s picture book for your home or school. It will make a fine text for reader’s theatre and suits a unit on Families. I can visualise it being brought vibrantly to life as a performance by children using dance, body percussion, voice, language and art work.

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  1. Thanks for that very thoughtful and observant review Susan. I've just stumbled upon it while researching dance scenes online for my current book. It came up in my search. (Funny, I had forgotten for the moment that the last book was about dance as well.) Crowds can be so hard to draw and still maintain a visual focus. Ahem, speaking of focus, I just wanted to thank you because you noticed so much of what was put into Thunderstorm Dancing and totally understood what it is about and how we envisaged that it could be used in a classroom. And it's pretty unusual to read a review where the reviewer has given equal attention to the illustrations. Most people have trouble describing and analysing illustration, myself included. So, well done! I've subscribed to your page. Looking forward to your updates. Cheers, Judy Watson

    1. Lovely to have your comment, Judy, and thanks for subscribing to The Book Chook! Looking forward to your next book, too.


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