PPBF – I Am the Storm

April is Earth Month and National Poetry Month. So I thought this is the perfect time to showcase today’s Perfect Picture Book. I hope you agree!

Title: I Am the Storm

Written By: Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Illustrated By: Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell

Publisher/Date: Rise x Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2020

Suitable for Ages: 3-5 and older

Themes/Topics: natural disasters, resilience, nature

Opening:

When the wind howled and blew, loud as a train,/ we had a party in the basement with Grandma, reading books and playing games with the flashlight.

Brief Synopsis:

In a series of fictional vignettes, young children and their families experience and survive natural disasters.

Links to Resources:

Why I Like this Book:

In I Am the Storm, four young children and their families survive four different natural disasters. With short, lyrical text and repeated phrases, Yolen and Stemple show what each family does as the natural disaster rages. And after the disasters, because, as the authors reassure readers, these disasters always stop, the children help clean up and help others, mimicking the disasters with their actions, “howling and blowing like the wind,” tossing “big handfuls of snow”, swaying “like a slow beautiful flame”, and returning home. Addressing readers, the authors acknowledge, “It’s okay to be scared.” But they remind readers, too, that they can be “strong and powerful” like nature, and afterwards, calm.

Illustrated with an inclusive array of characters and representing a variety of settings, I Am the Storm is an important book for kids who live in regions where natural disasters are prevalent, which is many places these days, or who are dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters or any type of traumatic event (which is most of us, after this COVID-dominated year).

The Howdeshells use sweeping, earth-toned double-page spreads to show both the disasters and the calmer scenes afterwards.

A Note about Craft:

With four distinct main characters facing four different natural disasters, in four varied settings, how did Yolen and Stemple tie these disparate stories together and craft a cohesive picture book? Using the same format for each, disaster strikes and families hunker down and amuse themselves together, followed by post-disaster clean up, with a repeated phrase “as…always do,” the authors show the resilience of each main character. And by acknowledging that it’s okay to be scared, and showing how these kids, and the readers, possess storm-like qualities, they offer hope to readers that they, too, will overcome these temporary disasters.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

9 responses to “PPBF – I Am the Storm

  1. This is such a beautiful book! It addresses not only children’s fears but also the other big emotions (their inner storms) they have. Really well done, as one would expect from the Yolen mother/daughter team.

  2. I really appreciate the book, esp for the beautiful artwork, but after the last summer of fires in Colorado, the spread on fires seems to make light of it, and that disappointed me. I realize I need not bring that up, but it is otherwise such an important and well-thought out picture book I feel the need to bring it up. If this comment offends please feel free to delete it, Patricia.

    • You aren’t the only one to have mentioned that, Julie. I can see where someone who lived through such a tragedy would think that maybe there was too much emphasis on reassuring, rather than on living through the disasters.

  3. Oo, I have been meaning to read this for a while. Thank you for the reminder.

  4. I adore this book. Particularly the ending spread.

  5. This is the first time I’ve seen this book. And, I’ve already ordered a copy for my great niece and nephew who live in Boca Raton, FL. It is so uplifting and they have already been through a few hurricanes. Thank you so much for sharing! (One of my favorite movies is Twister and I watch it every spring.)

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