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Waiting Out the Storm


Washington Post

Picture books for the very young
By Kristi Jemtegaard
Sunday, March 21, 2010

By JoAnn Early Macken

Illustrated by Susan Gaber

Candlewick. $15.99, ages 3-5

Endpapers brushed with raindrops introduce this story of a mother and child coming in from a sudden storm to the cozy comfort of their living room. Each one of the little girl's fearful questions ("Mama? What's that I hear?) is met with a comforting, low-key response ("That's just the rumble of thunder, my dear"). Once convinced of her own safety, the child begins to fret about the animals still outside in the wind and wet. "What about chipmunks?" she asks, and mother again soothes her worries: "They snuggle together, deep in their burrows in wet, windy weather." The graceful rhythm of these rhyming lines aptly mimics the steady patter of rain on the roof, and Susan Gaber's textured acrylic illustrations evoke the roiling movement of the clouds, the supple motion of branches bending to the wind, and the pungent smell of rain-soaked earth.

Booklist (Starred review!)

*Waiting Out the Storm. Macken, JoAnn Early (Author), Gaber, Susan (Illustrator) Mar 2010. 32 p. Candlewick, hardcover, $15.99. (9780763633783).

Out on a hillside as a storm moves in, a young girl and her mother observe the raindrops falling, the thunder rumbling, and the lightning flashing. As they approach their house, the girl asks where the turtles, chipmunks, and birds go during a storm and her mother explains. Indoors, they settle down in a chair together to watch the rain fall. The text creates a natural-sounding rhythm and flow of dialogue, from childlike questions and fears to grown-up answers and reassurances. Providing a light narrative framework and a breezily conversational, yet poetic exchange, the verse likens the girl and her mother to the animals sheltering, safe and snug, from the storm. Gaber’s captivating artwork, combining watercolor, pencil, and charcoal with digital renderings, is simultaneously strong and delicate. >From the impressionistic pictures of clouds and rain to the cutaway view showing the chipmunks underground to the cozy indoor scenes, the range of subjects and approaches is broad, but they are unified by style, palette, and a lyrical sense of flowing lines and forms. Lovely to look at and pleasing to listen to, this is just right for reading aloud on a rainy day. — Carolyn Phelan

School Library Journal

MACKEN, JoAnn Early. Waiting Out the Storm. illus. by Susan Gaber. unpaged. CIP. Candlewick. 2010. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3378-3. LC 2008030746.

PreS–As a child watches her mother collect daffodils on a windy spring day, she nervously plies her with questions about the impending rainstorm. Mother’s reassuring, rhymed replies identify the “wind in the treetops”…[that] “calls the raindrops to come out and play,” the “rumble of thunder,” then lightning. She responds to her child’s concern for the safety of turtles, ducks, chipmunks, and birds that live outside. Finally, mother and daughter, now safe in their house, crawl into a comfy chair near a window and cuddle up together: “But for now, let’s just watch./It’s a wonder to see./I am so glad I have you to share it with me.” The child’s questions are printed in large roman type; the mother’s responses appear beneath in smaller italics. There is a softness to Gaber’s acrylic paintings, and visible brushstrokes of color upon color create a textured wood floor, gauzy sheer curtains over window frames, and white sheets of falling rain. This mother’s responses–both verbal and physical–provide soothing comfort during a natural phenomenon that is feared by many little ones, much as Grandma in Patricia Polacco’s Thunder Cake (Philomel, 1990) assuages her granddaughter’s fear by involving her in an activity that requires both concentration and bravery.–Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH


Author: Macken, JoAnn Early

Review Date: FEBRUARY 15, 2010
Pages: 32
Price (hardback): $15.99
Publication Date: 3/1/2010 0:00:00
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3378-3
ISBN (hardback): 978-0-7636-3378-3
Category: CHILDREN'S
A poetic portrait of a young girl and her mother coming in from the rain. While the mother collects daffodils and her daughter watches, the storm announces itself by way of wind blowing through the trees. As the first drops fall, the girl starts to ask anxious questions about the sounds she hears coming from the sky and the animals she sees running for cover. The mother patiently offers her gentle rhyming answers. Readers learn where squirrels, birds, turtles and ducks go during the storm as they follow the mother-daughter pair inside. Gaber's soft watercolor, pencil and charcoal illustrations render the storm as a peaceful, natural event, doing a wonderful job of expressing the mother's calm, protective nature to mitigate the actual drama of the storm. Dark clouds look like soft, dark pillows, gold strands of lightning glitter through the foggy mist and the painterly textures give a comforting depth to the surfaces. There is also a nice juxtaposition between the text and visuals as the characters move toward shelter. A soothing read for an angry storm. (Picture book. 3-7)


Safe haven from the storm
Web exclusive
Review by Andrea Tarr

This comforting, lyrical story focuses on the mystery and beauty of an approaching storm. As wind whistles through the treetops and lightning brightens the darkening sky, a mother and her watchful daughter participate in a gentle, lilting call-and-response dialogue. Joann Early Macken’s story works as both a delightful educational introduction to the various aspects of a rainstorm, as well as a feather-light reassurance to a child who is curious and fearful about the weather.

The mother’s replies are printed in italics, while her daughter’s questions appear in a large, bolder font. These are consistent throughout the tale, making it easy to distinguish the voices of the two characters. The mother’s answers, compassionate and comforting, lend a lullaby-like quality to the text, while Susan Gaber’s lovely depictions of the emerging storm, some on two-page spreads, offer views of the mother-daughter bond, as well as portraits of contented and cozy animals and humans who are safe at home.

As they experience the drama created by the storm, the mother’s soothing explanations calm her daughter. Watching and pondering, dashing between raindrops, both have witnessed the beauty and power of nature. Detailed illustrations offer little ones the opportunity to explore, observe and appreciate the wonders of the natural world. A lovely rhapsody of shared fascination, Waiting Out the Storm is a delight for both young readers and listeners.

Freelance writer Andrea Tarr is a librarian at Corona Public Library in Southern California.

Waiting Out the Storm won Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Book Awards in two categories, Preschool Years and Early School Years!