January 7, 2014

The Storm Makers - by Jennifer E. Smith

Sometimes books with awesome covers can end up being pretty bad, but this one was as good as it looks.  It feels like a story we've heard before:  A normal boy is minding his own business when a mysterious stranger arrives, and suddenly the boy discovers he has special powers.  The interesting twist here is that the main character is the boy's sister, the super power doesn't really work, and the bad guy seems kind of like a good guy.

The boy in question is 12-year-old Simon, who recently relocated from Chicago to a rural Wisconsin farm with his parents and twin sister Ruby.  A terrible drought is hitting much of the nation, and the big worry is whether the family can make farm life work when nothing will grow.  When Ruby catches a disheveled man sneaking out of their barn one morning, things start to get interesting.  What is Simon's power, and why isn't it functioning correctly?  What is Ruby's role in the story?  Can two kids on a farm save their country from a not-so-natural disaster?

It's an interesting story with good pacing, some fun surprises, and a satisfying ending that hints at, but doesn't require a sequel.  To top it all off, it's beautifully illustrated by Brett Helquist, the master.

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