“It was a dark and stormy night...”
After a bit of thought on my part, I had to admit that November was the month for stormy weather here in the Pacific Northwest. Whether (ha, ha) it be wind storms, rainy downpours or a sudden, shocking snow storm, November has long been the time to batten down the hatches. In preparation for some mighty squirrely weather, here’s a list of stormy reads.
Peter Spier’s Rain by Peter Spier Peter Spier has long been one of my favorite children’s illustrators. In his wordless book, Rain, Spier tells the story of two children walking around their neighborhood during a rainstorm. Spier’s strength lies in his attention to detail, taking a simplistic story and turning it into a journey with a thousand things to look at. Saturate yourself in the sights and sounds of a rain shower with this gorgeous book.
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco A thunderstorm can be a frightening thing. In this wonderfully illustrated book, a grandmother helps her grandchild overcome her fear of storms by distracting her with baking a special thunder cake. Children and adults alike will enjoy counting down until the storm while the grandchild helps her grandmother gather ingredients around their farm.
Storm Runners by Roland Smith Chase and his father make their living chasing storms and helping towns rebuild after the worst has passed. While his father is off chasing a hurricane, Chase is left to stay with their trailers on the winter property of a traveling circus. Suddenly, the hurricane takes a turn for the worse and makes landfall right on top of the town where Chase is staying. Now he and a few friends must survive flooding, alligators and a hungry, escaped leopard. If you can’t bear the cliffhanger ending, look for the second book in this series, The Surge.
Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale It’s the year 1900 and Seth and his family have just moved to Galveston, Texas. Seth struggles to follow his own dreams and deals with making new friends and talking to girls, just like any normal teenager. Then, on Sept. 8, 1900 the worst hurricane in U.S. history descends on Seth and his town. Hale pens a coming of age tale where Seth must survive in the face of overwhelming loss and terrible devastation.
Sand Dollar Summer by Kimberly K. Jones Annalise and her family has moved to a coastal town in Maine after a car accident that injured her mother and left her little brother mute. Although Annalise initially fears the ocean and is angry about moving, it is the friendship of an elderly neighbor that helps her grow to love her surroundings. When her neighbor, Ben, is in danger due to an approaching hurricane, Annalise must use her newfound courage to face the ocean and save her friend.
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes Ever since she was born, Lanesha, a young girl who lives in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward area, has been able to see ghosts. When her wise and benevolent guardian, Mama Ya-Ya, foresees Hurricane Katrina bearing down on them, it’s up to Lanesha to use her unique perspective to see her loved ones through the storm. Rhodes has used Lanesha’s brave and wonderful character as a way to humanize the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
Trapped by Michael Northrop A diverse group of high school students in New England is stranded in their high school during a snow storm. As the storm worsens, the students must survive frozen water pipes, starvation and the steadily decreasing temperatures. Northrop has turned what could be a boring tale into a thrilling story of survival in the face of a savage and cold winter storm.
Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle Three great young adult authors structured romantic short stories around a single event. A snow storm strands a train near a small town during the holidays. This event affects the three stories in different ways, depending on where the main characters are. One story begins with a character who was riding on the train, another with people in the town who do something unexpected because of the train and one character who is waiting for someone who is coming on the train. All three stories are sweet, feel-good and humorous.
Lightning by Seymour Simon Ever wondered about the whys of lightning? In another book about weather phenomenon, Simon explores everything about lightning. In this book, stunning pictures (actual photographs that have captured lightning) are accompanied with interesting facts. Children and adults alike will enjoy learning something new about the “river of electricity that runs through the air.”
Adventures in Tornado Alley: The Storm Chasers by Mike Hollingshead and Eric Nguyen; introduction by Chuck Doswell This gorgeous coffee table book of storm photography is a pleasure to look at no matter what age you are. Photographers capture the terrible beauty of the storms and weather phenomena an intrepid pair of chasers encounter during one memorable storm season. The chasers provide fascinating commentary on more than 300 color photographs of extreme weather.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers Abdulrahman Zeitoun was a successful Syrian-born painting contractor in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit. He decided to try and weather the storm at home in order to protect his property and his business. After the levees broke, Zeitoun rescued all the people he could using his own small canoe. Incredibly, even after his selfless acts, Zeitoun was thrown in prison by an armed squad and was accused of being part of Al-Quaeda on the basis of his skin color and culture. This is a telling account of one person’s experience of the dark side of bureaucracy.
Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson The writer of Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts tackles the subject of Isaac Cline, a scientist in newly formed U.S. Weather Bureau and the approach and devastation of a hurricane that struck Texas in the year 1900. Readers will be drawn in by Larson’s dramatic retelling of one of the worst natural disasters that the United States had ever experienced. Larson has an innate talent for describing historical events in a way that is completely fascinating to read.
61 Hours: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child Child’s hero Jack Reacher embarks on another adventure full of his typical thrilling derring-do. Reacher is stranded in the tiny town of Bolton, S.D., in the midst of a terrible snow storm. Unbeknownst to the local police force, a major drug operation has secretly begun production in an abandoned military complex outside of town. It’s up to Jack Reacher to deal with the hardened criminals and save the people of Bolton in the middle of a blizzard. These books can be read out of order with no trouble, but if you do want to start with Reacher’s first adventure, begin with Killing Floor.
The Unknown Shore by Patrick O’Brian Before there was Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, O’Brian wrote of two characters named Jack Byron and Tobias Barrow. These two early blueprints for his much more famous latter characters sign on with the HMS Wager and are shipwrecked off the coast of Chile in a terrible storm. In classic O’Brian style, Jack and Tobias must survive typhoons, mutinies and famine while preserving their growing friendship. This book is a fun look at O’Brian’s early work.
City of Refuge: a novel by Tom Piazza Piazza pens a deeply touching novel about Hurricane Katrina and the very different experiences of two families living in New Orleans—one black and one white. The Donaldsons (the white family) decide to evacuate and struggle to adjust in far away cities in the aftermath of the storm. The Williams (the black family) attempt to ride out the storm and are subjected to the horror of the Convention Center and the Superdome. This book is written by a New Orleans native who tells these stories with brutal honesty and a deep love for his city.
Ill Wind by Rachel Caine. Ill Wind is the first book in the Weather Warden series, written by prolific author Rachel Caine. Joanne Baldwin is a weather warden—someone who is able to magically control the weather. The weather wardens are part of a global magic council who secretly help the human race by mitigating natural disasters. Joanne has been accused of killing a senior warden and is on the run, frantic to find friends who can help protect her long enough to explain her actions to the magical community. Can Joanne outrun the terrible storm pursuing her and prove that there is a thread of corruption running through the warden community?
Editor's note: Jenna Zarzycki is an intern at the Woodinville branch of the King County Library System.