Tornado by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

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Another in the fine series written by Jackie French and illustrated by Bruce Whatley will inform readers asked to follow its path of destruction. Starting with the willy willy, then on to a twister, the places that the tornado hits are various, from Bangladesh to Sydney, Missouri to Beenleigh.

But each has the power causing flying debris to strike with powerful rain and wind. Do not try to outrun them, because they travel at 400 kilometres an hour. And after the chaos is the widespread rubbish, houses overturned, cars upside down, people in shelters not knowing what they will come back to. The destruction made by the tornado is monumental, and one thing that it is known is that it will return.

Powerful words, presented in four lined rhyming verses, will take the breath away as they are read. Each verse presents a detail of what a tornado is. At the end of the story is a page of facts that will inform and interest readers, and they will be able to link those facts with the story they have just read.

Stunning illustrations cover the pages with images of the tornado and what it looks like in its many guises. The pages where it changes from the wind itself to the destruction it causes will stop readers in their tracks, as they see the mishmash of furniture, household goods, books, toys, cars and building materials all mixed up together.

We often see this mayhem on the screen, but Whatley’s masterful images of the destruction make it far more real. The child coming out of the shelter could be them, surviving after a tornado. It could be them trying to outrun one, it could be them whose house and everything inside is tossed about into a mess of concrete, wood and things once held dear.

Themes: Tornados, Distraction, Natural disasters.

Fran Knight