reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

Waiting Out the Storm, With My Daughter


As I’ve written before, like Grandfather like Granddaughter, but apparently not when it comes to thunderstorms.

We woke up to one this morning, and my daughter was scared. She wanted nothing but to stay in my lap, giving the green gray sky outside her window the occasional anxious glance.

There was, of course, only one thing to do…

Waiting Out the Storm, by JoAnn Early Macken, illustrated by Susan Gaber (Candlewick, 2010) was the perfect choice, for there we were (daughter and mother, one scared, one set to sooth) in a picture book.

The mother and daughter in the book are outside on the first page, and the daughter asks, “Mama?” and the Mama responds, “Yes, buttercup?”

“What’s that I hear?”

Next page: “It’s only the wind in the treetops, my dear. Why does it whistle? A storm’s on its way. The wind calls the raindrops to come out and play.”

The rest of the story continues with the daughter’s questions and comments in regular font, the mother’s responses in italics. When the raindrops begin to fall they put up an umbrella and walk to the house with their basket of newly picked flowers.

The daughter asks again, “Mama? Yes, buttercup? What’s that I hear?”

That’s just the rumble of thunder, my dear.”

“It’s too loud! I’m afraid! Oh, it’s only a sound. Thunder stomps, thunder stumbles and bumbles around.

“What’s it doing? It’s racing up high, chasing the lightning all over the sky.”

Their dialogue continues, as the daughter asks about what turtles and ducks do during a storm (they “like being outside when it’s wet”), whereas chipmunks “…snuggle together, deep in their burrows…”

Which is what the mother and the daughter in the book then do, too.

“We’re comfy inside. Yes, we’ll stay dry and warm, cozy together here out of the storm…”

This is also what JoAnn Early Macken, who is the president of the SCBWI-WI chapter to which I belong, wrote to my children when she signed my copy of her book: “For Katy and Will—Stay snug and cozy!”

With the help of this book, we did.

Waiting Out the Storm accurately captures a child’s fears and questions about a storm, and the mother’s response to the child is natural. She says things that I really would say to comfort my almost three-year-old daughter.

The language is lyrical, with a calming rhyme and rhythm that are even more beautiful when read with raindrops pattering a windowpane in the background.

Another thing about thunderstorms many kids don’t realize is that storms don’t last long. Shortly after we finished the book this brief, first storm of the season has rolled on by.

My daughter was up out of my lap, ready to play.

And it won’t be too long, I hope, until she will join her Bubba in a wooden chair pulled right up to the very edge of the open garage to “wait out the storm,” and occasionally stick a foot out in it.

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