Thunderstorm dancing by Katrina Germein and Judy Watson

cover image

Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781743314593
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Weather, Family, Dancing. I found it hard not to sing this out loud, the music of the words, their rhythm and rhymes so infectious that my feet were tapping as I read. I can imagine a class full of kids learning pieces of this and singing it out loud as it is read over and over. The words take you by storm (sorry) as the wind and rain descend on the beach shack where the family is staying. Grandma calls the children inside, and Daddy plays with the kids, becoming the wind, Tommy prances around like the clouds and Poppy stamps his feet in time with the thunder. Each of the family is part of the storm, playing their part in keeping the story of the storm going while it rages outside. The whole family makes noise, stamps around the room, dances to the wind and rain outside, with Granny on the piano. But suddenly it subsides, everything becomes quiet once again, Granny is the sun and the child called inside is the rainbow.
This is just delightful, allaying any child's fears of a storm, giving many children an idea of the words used to describe a storm, showing the might of a storm and reiterating that it does eventually calm down and the sun and a rainbow do appear, showing that the end of the storm has come.
For classes looking at weather this would be a great introduction to the work, allowing children to recognise the words describing the weather event and encouraging them to share their own stories of storms. For dance and looking at rhyming words too, this book is a must have, and for getting kids to join in, it is just wonderful.
The illustrations by Judy Watson move across the pages with verve and vigour. The ink outlines filled with colour and watercolour wash are terrific. I love the spots of white splatter paint denoting the frothy waves, and the swirls of dancing people on many of the pages, and the storm sweeping across. And I love the endpapers, the first with a group of buffeted seagulls holding their own in the rain and wind, and the last with calm and light as the storm has finished. I'm sure youger readers will follow the fish, the gulls and the cat with interest as they randomly appear, and others will follow the little girl, as she comes in from the storm to cuddle with her dog on a chair, but gradually feels more at ease with her family's dancing, until finally she is able to get up and almost join in as the storm goes away. Loved it all.
Fran Knight