HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Storm in the Night
Author: Mary Stolz
Illustrator: Pat Cummings
Publisher: HarperCollins, reprinted in 1990
ISBN-13: 978-0812495942 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0812495942 (Hardcover)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4-8 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Stolz, Mary. Storm in the Night (published in 1988 by HarperCollins). Because a fierce storm has put out the lights, there is nothing to do except talk so Thomas’s grandfather says, “I shall have to tell you a tale of when I was a boy.”
“Storm in the night.
Thunder like mountains blowing up.
Lightning licking the navy-blue sky.
Rain streaming down the windows,
babbling in the downspouts.”
Grandfather’s story is about his dog Melvin. Thomas has a loving relationship with the older man but wonders about the differences between the two. He has “a chin as smooth as a peach” while Grandfather has “a voice like a tuba.” The two listen to the sound of rain that clatters “on the tin roof like a million tacks,” and finally Grandfather tells his story of “how fear does strange things to people.”
Mary Stoltz’s gentle, poetic text powerfully reflects Thomas’s thoughts about sounds and memories. Pat Cummings’s intense, electric paintings in icy blue, white, black, and brown illustrate this story of the young black boy, his grandfather, and their cat during the fearsome thunder storm, capturing both the night shadows and the golden fire light in the house. There is a distinct contrast between the raging storm without and the calm within as Grandfather shares the fear he had as a youngster during a similar storm when he accidently left his puppy outside. The story is an excellent one to explain about how to overcome fear and how to conquer it, as well as being honest about one’s feelings. Also, with its rich and vivid imagery, the book is perfect for teaching various forms of figurative language such as similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, and personification.