cover image Twister


Darleen Bailey Beard. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-37977-3

A rural family and its neighbor face potential disaster as a tornado heads for their homes in this suspenseful though ultimately reassuring picture book. Natt and Lucille enjoy a sultry summer day eating Popsicles and pretending to be royalty. As they dart through the yard, a serious storm kicks up and brings them indoors. When Mama spots an ominous funnel cloud in the distance, she sends Natt and Lucille racing out toward the storm cellar built into the yard while she heads next door to help Mr. Lyle take shelter. During the next several minutes, Natt and Lucille hunker alone in the dark, waiting for the storm to pass and afraid for Mama and Mr. Lyle's safety. Happily, the twister moves on, having caused minimal damage, and Natt and Lucille are quickly reunited with Mama. Beard (The Pumpkin Man from Piney Creek) gets all the details right: the sky turning the color of Mama's guacamole, an ominous silence followed by the ""monstrous howling"" of wind. In a style vastly different from her work in Loud Emily and closer to that in Lester's Dog, Carpenter's soft and hazy pastels capture all the colors of the changing sky. Her portraits of Natt and Lucille have an emotional pull, showing the kids' move from playful to fearful to thankful as the ordeal begins and ends. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)