'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Thunderstorm Dancing

Books with spark come around again and it’s Thunderstorm Dancing’s turn to return with a ‘crackling zap! sizzling snap!’ 

First published in 2015, this 2016 CBCA Book of the Year, Early Childhood, has now been released in paperback. 

Perhaps you remember Tania McCartney’s original review of the hardcover version?

Katrina Germein weaves a story about a little girl and her family harnessing the hurly-burly of a thunderstorm. The little girl’s family feel energised by the storm and their bodies and voices move to the intensity and rhythm of it. The little girl, on the other hand, feels the storm’s enormity and stays small and still. Finally calm descends and it’s time for Granny and the girl to tap into the new mood. This story revels in the mayhem of a large family and reminds me of my own. My husband, four kids and I often break into spontaneous dancing and singing, especially as a way of cheering someone up.

Germein’s words roll around my mouth and pop and fizz, enticing me to read the book aloud with my kids, again and again. The poetic prose captures the verve of a storm, expertly employing rhythm, rhyme, and my favourite, onomatopoeia. Think, ‘ga-bang’, ‘ga-boom’.

I am captivated by Judy Watson’s expressive illustration style as I detailed in Searching for Cicadas. That superb scratchy line work. It flows and billows, undulating across the page, visualising the storm’s energy. Watson has used varied perspectives captured in mixed media, ink, watercolour, gouache, as well as, digital colour. Watson’s use of complementary colours, blue and orange, make each spread pop.

Thunderstorm Dancing is a wonderful read-aloud book for families and as a primary teacher, I highly recommend it as a resource for classrooms. Imagine writing a poem inspired by the use of onomatopoeia in the book. Also Germein is an early childhood teacher and so has lots of suggestions on her website and her Pinterest. There are also teaching notes here. What’s more, this story is a wonderful model for how to express big emotions as a means of catharsis, a real interest of mine at the moment.

Thunderstorm Dancing captures the vitality of life in words and pictures. A book of gusto, sparkle and spirit.

Title: Thunderstorm Dancing
Author: Katrina Germein
Illustrator: Judy Watson
Publisher: A&U Children's, $14.99 RRP
Publication Date: 5 January 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760527150
For ages: 2 - 8
Type: Picture Book