Rebecca's Reviews > The Storm in the Barn

The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan
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Oct 05, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: graphic-novels, kid-graphic-novels, age-middle-school, visualstorytelling, words-and-pictures
Recommended for: 4th grade and up

So, I wanted to love this with the same kind of passion I have for The Arrival, but I didn't quite. I give it three and a half stars. I like its unusual genre: historical fiction in graphic novel format, with a twist of tall tale and the incorporation of some of the Jack tales and "The Wizard of Oz." Maybe it was Matt Phelan's very soft illustrations (you've seen them in "The Higher Power of Lucky"; little sister Mabel is cute as a button) that belied the dark thriller hiding in this story. Before reading, I would have given it to a young child; after reading, I'm thinking they should be at least 10 and not easily scared (and, if you have a particular love of rabbits or a particular hatred of animal killing in a book, steer clear).

That being said, there is a certain type of kid who will LOVE this book if they can get past it being a "boring historical story" about the Dust Bowl from a kid's point of view. Kids with a good sense of the visual will like it, for at times it is almost wordless, and very cinematic. There were times when I couldn't quite follow the sequence of events in the wordless pages, which made me feel out of it since I read a lot of graphic novels, but the book as a whole made my heart beat faster, and that's saying something.
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