cover image I Am a Tornado

I Am a Tornado

Drew Beckmeyer. Atheneum, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-66591-674-5

In an entertaining story about the power of compassion, an anthropomorphic tornado finds an empathetic ear—and some emotional support—from an unexpected source. Tornado, a menacing twisty gray funnel of cloud, barrels into a rural scene, flipping farm animals and buildings with abandon and sucking up a russet-brown cow. As Tornado continues shouting and spinning, the cow, now along for the ride, asks, “Tornado, is everything okay?” The back-and-forth that follows might well be a primer for emotional de-escalation. Tornado initially remains on the defensive (“I AM SUPER POWERFUL AND TALL... NOTHING BOTHERS ME”), while the patient cow uses a multi-pronged approach of sincerity, empathy, and occasional meteorological sidebars to understand the spiral’s motivation. Slowly, bovine encouragement brings about a transformation for Tornado, who moves from “I’M GONNA GO TOSS ’EM” to “WILL YOU STAY TILL I BLOW AWAY?” Featuring distant mountains and wide-open spaces, cut-paper artwork with a 3D quality slowly shifts with the protagonists’ emotional state, showing the cow growing ever larger and expressive Tornado smaller. Beckmeyer (Dear Wild Child) delivers a relatable, conversational power-down that is by turns gentle, funny, and vulnerable. Ages 4–8. Agent: Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, Red Fox Literary. (May)