Friday, February 8, 2013

The Storm Makers

Smith, Jennifer E. 2012. THE STORM MAKERS. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 9780316179584 [Suggested Grade Levels 4 - 6]

Stories about characters that discover a new part of themselves resonates with middle grade readers.  Smith crafts an adventurous fantasy that captures such pre-adolescent feelings of change and instability.
Wisconsin is suffering from the largest drought in 100 years.  The twins Simon and Ruby are struggling to find their place on a farm after moving from Chicago.  To add to their troubles, a few strange things begin to happen, and Simon gets extremely ill and is taken to the hospital.  There a strange visitor arrives and informs Simon that he is a storm maker. 

Storm makers are individuals who are able to influence the weather.  Their secret organization is in the midst of a rift between those who want to use their abilities to calm and stabilize, and those who want to wield their power to punish people for being careless with the environment.   Simon is caught in the middle between the conflicting interests.

Simon and Ruby are 12 years old, a time of great change and instability, much like the weather.  When it becomes apparent the Simon has this special ability much of the conflict mirrors the frustrations felt by many 12 year olds.  Ruby is a stabling force by his side. 

A discussion about global warming fits the theme and conflict of this story well.  Simon is able to create or effect weather, other kids should have the chance to create their own weather as well.  Weather experiments would be a strong extension for students who have read this book.

Other books about coming of age magic
Law, Ingrid. SAVVY.  ISBN 9780142414330
Wrede, Patricia C. THIRTEENTH CHILD. ISBN 9780545033459

By Emily Fultz

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