cover image Hurricane!


Jonathan London. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12977-4

A boy and his family witness an awe-inspiring storm in this exhilarating picture book account. The narrator and his brother begin the day like any other--they scramble down the cliff near their Puerto Rico home and go snorkeling. As they explore the coral reef, the boys don't know the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Once up for air, they see an ominous purple sky and quickly head for home. The family hastily grabs some belongings and gathers the dog, then drives through the wind and water to a nearby shelter. There they crowd together with neighbors and gently sing verses of ""Silent Night"" as the hurricane roars and crashes, threatening to collapse the building. The storm eventually passes and, happily, leaves little destruction in its wake. Based on London's (The Candystore Man, reviewed above) recollection of a childhood experience, this suspenseful tale has a ""you are there"" immediacy. Poetic descriptions of hammering winds, crashing waves and lightning which ""scribbled on the dark clouds"" eloquently capture the beauty and violence of severe weather. Sorensen's (I Love You as Much) slightly hazy oil paintings move suddenly from sunny island blues and greens to chillingly dark grays. Several changes of scenery demonstrate the artist's skill at depicting varying types of light and shadow, from soft morning sun to dim kerosene lamplight. The current popularity of weather topics-El Nino and natural disasters, especially-also makes this a timely volume. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)