The Storm in the Barn
By Matt Phelan
Published 2009 by Candlewick Press
This is another Bluebonnet book that I didn’t manage to get my hands on until recently, but it’s another one that I had heard about elsewhere and was interested in reading. If you’ve been reading the blog or if you know me, it’s no secret that I’m a big historical fiction fan (a surprisingly recent development). I also really enjoy graphic novels. This book is a marriage of these two things that I love dearly.
In Dust Bowl Kansas, Jack must figure out how to survive, deal with the consequences, and help his family in any way he can. After reading the wonderful Out of the Dust last year, the Dust Bowl has become a recent fascination of mine. I was very interested to see how Phelan would tell this story, especially in a graphic format. After reading the book, though, my thoughts are a bit muddled. I’m not sure what to really say about this book because I’m not sure how I really feel about this book. Phelan’s visual work on this novel is fantastic – his style is distinctive and evocative. The color palette he chose perfectly suits the time period he is writing and drawing about. However, the story he chose to tell here didn’t capture me as much as the artwork. I know “weird” is not a great descriptive word, but that’s what I come up with after finishing the book. I really don’t know how kids will feel about this book – the plot is a bit supernatural but not in a way that I think would be readily recognized and accepted by kids. Or maybe that’s my own personal bias; I can’t really say. Either way, I didn’t come away from this book feeling like I read something awesome or wanting to recommend it to everyone I know. This was a bit of a disappointment for me, I’m afraid.