Monday, October 21, 2013

Storm in the Night by Mary Stolz

Once a year we celebrate scary things in the night and that holiday is coming up at the end of this month. In these days of electricity it's hard to really understand how frightening the dark of night used to be. Unless your power goes out in the middle of a storm.

Thomas and his Grandfather are in the dark in a storm. With no electricity there's nothing to do, so Grandfather tells a story from when he was a boy. Back then - before he had a beard he assures Thomas - Grandfather had a dog named Melvin who was so scared of storms, “that I had to hide under the bed with him when one came.  He was afraid even to be frightened alone.”

Thomas asserts, “I'm not frightened of anything.”  But Grandfather admits that when he was a boy, he was just as scared as Melvin. Then one day a storm came while Grandfather the boy was alone at home. Even Melvin the dog wasn't there. Would Grandfather stay under the bed, or go out in the storm to rescue Melvin?

Pat Cummings' paintings make Grandfather's story come alive. The varied ways she uses illumination and perspectives turn the storm into an experience for all the senses and help the reader follow the story within the story.   Storm in the Night affirms that it is OK for boys to be afraid and to admit it, a message all too rare in our culture.  Recently, Lemony Snicket also took a look at a boy's fear in his picture book The Dark.

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