I Survived: The Joplin Tornado, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis (3 out of 5)
As part of expanding my ever-myopic little mind, I’m trying to read some more younger children’s books- Year 8 is what Bab’s calls that age group for kids. Holly handed me this one yesterday, after Scholastic had sent her a box of new books coming out. See, here’s the thing: I like natural disasters. By that, I don’t mean that I LIKE the fact that they occur and cause death and destruction. No, I’m fascinated by them, how they form, how they wreck havoc, how they can be shielded using modern technology, etc. I’m a WEATHER NERD. That means everything that has a natural disaster contained within its pages makes its way to me, through my compadres at the store, plus I’m pretty sure Wendy at S&S knows that I like hurricanes and tornadoes by the sheer amount of books on those and other disasters that I have requested over the past two years of our acquaintance. Anyway, it was with obvious excitement that I ripped this out of Holly’s hands and feverishly started reading this. (Heavy on the sarcasm, save the cheese). I had a fun time for the 25 minutes it took me to read (these are small books, and I’m a fast reader).
My first bone of contention- and likely the biggest one- is the cover and the illustrations contained within. I realize these are not going to be Renoirs or even something you would see on the cover of Cracked or Mad magazine, but there should be a little bit of authenticity in these photos so the children who are reading these books realize that there is a very real threat involved, especially with natural disasters involved. This cover? Looks like someone went overboard with the CGI, minus the life jacket. It’s like a still from the film “The Day After Tomorrow”, but the Sesame Street version! The pictures inside? The young man who is the focus of the story finds his dog first after the tornado hits- the picture? The dog looks like a rabid, rabies-infested jackal let loose in the desert after eating Paula Deen and her buttercups, not this adorable, loving fur baby who’s been through a frightening tornado. If I saw that wilderbeast(as illustrated here) in the ruins of a tornado ravaged house? I’d get out my blowgun and kill that mother. No joke. The illustrations need some work.
Second and last complaint…more than half the book is devoted to the young man missing his brother, who’s a Navy SEAL and away on a mission somewhere. Half the book when the book is only 200 something pages? Is a lot to be missing his baby bro. I understand the sentiment given that their lives are all under the gun when the tornado strikes Joplin, but come on. Spend some more time on what causes tornadoes to form. There is a little bit of knowledge, but for that 8 or 9 year old weather fiend who loves the weather? A little bit more on the climate changes and what drives these monsters into overdrive would be nice, too. Global warming and climate change are a huge part of the reason these storms continue to spawn such destructive forces, but there’s not much in here about that. A huge oversight, in my opinion. Otherwise, a pretty solid rendering of the May 22, 2011, that levelled Joplin, Missouri. I liked the afterword with questions and answers. I wish there had been more information on the Fujita scale, as it does have a huge part in most meteorologists determining how bad a tornado was, in the aftermath. Not much in the way of information on that, either. One thing I can say for this book- I hope it does spawn a few weather nerd kids (like I was), and a few less rabid jackals in the debris after the storm.