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“Is it possible for a family to run out of nice things to say?” –The Longest Storm
The Longest Storm
by Dan Yaccarino
5 – 8
Like many children’s book authors, Dan Yaccarino uses exaggerated characters and situations to show a problem that most young readers can relate to. His story Morris Mole uses a mole in a nice suit to teach readers the importance of embracing their uniqueness. His story Boy + Bot focuses on a boy’s unexpected bond with a robot to show the value of accepting and embracing differences in friendships. In The Longest Storm, Yaccarino uses a violent, persistent storm to educate today’s young readers on an issue unique to their generation – the COVID-19 lockdown.
Short, heartfelt, and relatable, The Longest Storm follows a nameless family learning to coexist with one another after a sudden storm forces them to stay in their house for an indefinite amount of time. At first, their time inside makes them hopelessly bored. As the storm continues, and the family repeatedly gets in each other’s way, the boredom shifts to irritation. After the family’s patience with each other finally snaps, each member of the family has a deep desire to be away from one another despite having nowhere to go. In The Longest Storm, readers will find a thoughtful lesson about navigating and communicating their feelings to loved ones at times when words fail, and emotions overwhelm them.
The book is narrated by an unspecified family member, using simple vocabulary that is easily accessible to new readers. Each page is carefully composed, combining several individual illustrations to show the family’s growing division, and using double-page spreads when the family has finally come to an understanding. The narration is short and concise, using only one to four sentences on each page and relying just as much on the illustrations to tell the story. As the family becomes more and more annoyed with each other, the pages are drawn in progressively brighter shades of red. As the family isolates themselves in their rooms, they are each portrayed in dark, lonely blue hues.
If you are looking for a book to help your young reader understand the complicated and continuing issue of the pandemic, or if you are simply looking for a book that shows healthy communication, The Longest Storm should satisfy. It is a thinly disguised allegory that will connect with older and younger readers alike and will undoubtedly serve as a helpful lesson to anyone who picks it up.
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