Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the StormTitle: Eye of the Storm
Author: Kate Messner
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publication Date: February 28th, 2012
Genre/Format: Sci-Fi/Novel
Summary: Jaden lives in the not too distant future where tornadoes have intensified and are a constant threat. Jaden's father is the head of a corporation that studies tornadoes and that built a StormSafe neighborhood where the storms cannot get in. Jaden's father has not been too active in her life for the last couple of years, but when she is invited to visit him and attend a world-renowned science camp in a neighborhood that doesn't get tornadoes- it is a win-win situation. And everything is going really well. Jaden has been grouped into the meteorology section of the camp, she has made friends and is partnered with a really brilliant, nice boy named Alex. It is great. Except that something really weird is going on with her dad. He isn't himself- he only talks about work, is really intense, and isn't the comforting man that Jaden remembers. The tornadoes, the neighborhood and his company have become his obsession. So Jaden decides to discover the truth behind her father's obsession and the truth is horrible- worse than she could even imagine. 
What Kellee Thinks: Wow! This book jumps right in! Within the first couple of paragraphs you are thrown in the middle of a tornado that is barreling down on Jaden and her father. And the terror never ceases. Even when you start to get comfortable, you are on the edge of your seat because you know that something is going on. 

This future in general terrifies me. Tornadoes are the thing that I probably fear the most. I lived in tornado alley until I was 14 and have been too close to tornadoes. I had reoccurring nightmares about them all of my childhood. They were an obsession and a fear. So Jaden's future is fascinating, but also my worst nightmare. And what makes Jaden's world even worse is that with the addition of the intense tornadoes, it seems like most joy was taken from her world- no more museums, ballet, poetry, Disney, pleasure reading, classroom learning. All of the things that make our world a place that I love- gone. My reaction to this aspect of the book reminded me of the same reaction I have with The Giver when I was in middle school. I cannot imagine a world where these joys are sucked away. 

Oh, and I haven't even mentioned how well Kate writes. The imagery that she creates, specifically when it comes to the tornadoes, is what makes the book. The ability to visualize what she has created so you feel like you are there with Jaden moves the story to the next level. 
What Jen Thinks: I have to agree that I was impressed by Kate's writing and the story she has created in Eye of the Storm. I have always loved Kate's characters and the characters in this book are great. I am so glad for strong, smart, girl protagonists. I am all for girl power. I love it. It is so interesting to think of all of Kate's books that I have read and how she seems to have evolved and grown as a writer. 

I agree with Kellee on her other points as well! The future world Kate has created does seem so real. It is one of the most realistic and thus most scary science fiction books to read because it does seem like we are headed towards this world...I'm particularly scared this year since we have had such a mild winter in Chicago. I find myself thinking back to Eye of the Storm because this weather is just so strange. From the beginning, the tornadoes are real and scary. I was so sad for Alex's situation and I am wondering and anticipating how kids will relate to his story in the sense that his family is forced to give up their home and there isn't much they can do about it. It seems like Alex has to grow up too fast.

Probably my most favorite-est part is the twist at the end (no pun intended)! My 6th grade student was so excited to read this book and we had a long discussion about all the craziness that ensues at the end of the book. I love that this twist takes it from Jaden and her friends trying to stop the tornadoes to there being so much more to the tornadoes than an evolution of climate and weather. Aren't you just itching to get your hands on this book? 

As I'm brainstorming how this book can be used, I am realizing how this could fit into a science class studying weather and climate and the environment in general. What if the class developed a environmental newspaper with everything devoted to this topic? Students could write articles about our current state, how scientists think things will change, what people can do to be "green" and to help limit the changes or at least slow the changes down. There is a lot to be done here. Earth Day is coming soon and I was planning to read The Lorax with my students (especially because the movie comes out on March 2nd). I am not really one to get excited by science but this book has my gears turning.
Read Together: Grade 5 to 7
Read Alone: Grade 6 to 10
Read With: Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Life As We Knew It (The Last Survivor series) by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Among the Hidden (Shadow Children Series) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Snatch of Text: 
"A wall of death-black cloud sits on the horizon. Slow-swirling charcoal fingers reach down from it. They point to the ground, hungry for dust and trees and buildings. The fingers close into thick fists, swirling, churning toward the farms." (p. 215-216)
Mentor Text for:  Activating Background Knowledge, Imagery, World-building, Mood, Setting, Expository, Personal Narrative, Attention Grabbers
Writing Prompts: Research current weather events and write an article about what changes in the environment we are already experiencing. Write about why people need to be more "green" and then give ideas for how do to this. Write about a time in your life when you had to stand up for something you believed in.  
Topics Covered: Integration - Science - Tornadoes & Meteorology, Family, Friendship, Loyalty, Work, Determination, Integrity
Jen *hearts* it
Kellee *hearts* it

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