cover image Old Thunder and MS Rainey

Old Thunder and MS Rainey

Sharon Darrow, DK Publishing. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2619-2

In this spunky picture book, first-time author Darrow introduces perhaps the most charming pair of tornado-tossed characters since Dorothy and Toto. The Washita County Fair is coming up, and Miss Raney Cloud is dead set on winning a blue ribbon, especially because her numerous and varied previous attempts have brought nary a win, place or show. Raney's entry this year will be her tasty Sooner Biscuits. When the first batch burns and she doesn't have the ingredients to start anew, Raney and her sorry-looking horse, Old Thunder, kick into action. Raney ignores her neighbors' warnings about impending storms and drives Old Thunder to town and backDand, with her horse, is swooped up into a tornado. The flour she has bought is now ""storm sifted"" and super-aerated, producing unusually light biscuits that win Raney and Old Thunder their ribbonDin a most unexpected way. Darrow stirs just the right amount of action, humor and heart into her rambunctious tale, while a healthy dollop of down-home expressions (""Oh, fiddle-dee-dee""; ""I do indeedy"") adds color. The loose, wispy lines of Brown's (The Littlest Matryoshka) watercolor and pen-and-ink artwork provide a fitting sense of motion and fluidity, and the dusty, creamy palette captures the feel of an Oklahoma summer. The artist's wry comic sense is a sound foil to Raney's deadpan narration. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)