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August 12, 2008

Night of the Twisters

Night of the Twisters

Author: Ivy Ruckman       

Page Length: 151

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Realistic Fiction   

PLOT SUMMARY: Night of the Twisters is a narrative told by Dan Hatch, the oldest of two children, and resident of Grand Island, Nebraska.  It is based on the actual tornadoes that struck Grand Island and the surrounding areas on June 4, 1980.

As the story begins, Dan has just won a bike after entering the Dairy Queen Bike Race because his best friend, Arthur, dared him to race.

Dan and Arthur spend most of their free time together.  Dan prefers being at Arthur’s house, to get to eye Stacey, Arthur’s 14-year-old sister.  Arthur likes to be at Dan’s house, so that he can escape his six sisters.  They both appease the wishes of Dan’s, Aunt Goldie, by participating in her craft projects and self-improvement classes. Dan is a bit jealous of his baby brother, Ryan, who requires most of his mother’s time and attention.

The book is written in chapters from hour to hour on the afternoon of June 3rd.  At 5:00, Arthur and Dan are leaving the beach as clouds begin to build.  At 6:00, Arthur has dinner with Dan and his family and then, Dan’s dad leaves to go to his grandpa’s house that lives in the country. After doing the dishes and folding some diapers, about 7:00, the boys went for a bike ride.  They visited Mrs. Smiley and went by Arthur’s house to see if he could spend the night at Dan’s.  Everything and everybody were very calm-before the storm hit.

By 8:00, warnings are being given on the radio that tornadoes have been cited.  Dan’s mother gets worried, that Mrs. Smiley, who lives down the street, may not know to take cover.  She decides to drive down the street to help Mrs. Smiley get into her basement.  However, before her return, the sirens sound.  Dan and Arthur hurry to get Ryan, Dan’s baby brothers, Minerva, the cat and themselves down into the basement.  They make it to the basement as they heard the roaring of a freight train.

The boys survive the storm, but do not realize what comes after a severe tornado demolishes a town. They must make adult decisions about how to survive and help others survive.

REVIEW:  Ivy Ruckman does a great job of getting the reader involved with the characters at the beginning of the book.  The way in which he writes the events, hour by hour, create suspense as to what will happen next.  He develops the character of Dan, and shows how he changes and matures in just a twelve hour period. 

I think this book would be a good read aloud for a class.  It has good character development, description, and an order of events that the class could discuss and develop as writing projects.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Sequence of Events, Cause and Effect, Characters, Setting, and Conclusions, Predictions, and Generalizations

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “Twister” (1996)


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

June 23, 2008

Storm Warning Tornadoes

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Storm Warning Tornadoes

Author: Chris Oxlade

Page Length: 48

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Non-Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: This book is an awesome look at Twisters. Readers discover why scientists believe tornadoes happen and what conditions they usually form from. The science of tornadoes is detailed and incredible photographs are shown of everything from satellite shots of a warm and cold front meeting to an anvil cloud. Pictures of real tornadoes are included as well as pictures of the devastating aftermath they have left behind. Quotes from tornado witnesses and survivors and twister facts help the reader connect with the deadly reality of tornadoes.

Readers of this book become experts in the formation and types of tornadoes. Famous tornado outbreaks are detailed with picture, facts, and damage statistics. A map of tornado alley and a picture of giant (yes, giant!) hail stones (pg. 26) provide for a fascinating read. This book is a must read for anyone who lives in tornado alley, desires to be a storm chaser, or for anyone who is fascinated by the fury of nature.

REVIEW: These Turbulent Planet books are awesome non-fiction tools for getting kids excited about reading something. The graphics are compelling and the statistics and information presentations gripping. This book is high interest. Several lessons could be planned over the material it covers. Students can compare and contrast different types of tornadoes or even different tornado outbreaks that have occurred. Science vocabulary is defined on the bottom of each page. A huge analysis of the effects of the tornado could also be compiled. The graphics are excellent and should engage 99% of our students. These books are an excellent source!

AREAS FOR TEACHING: cause and effect, part to whole relationships, connecting text to self, concept definition, vocabulary development

RELATED BOOKS: Night of the Twister, Twisters: A Book about Tornadoes, Twister: The Science of Tornadoes and the Making of an Adventure Movie, Storm Warning: The Story of a Killer Tornado, any Turbulent Planet Book,

RELATED MOVIES:  Night of the Twister, Twister, Storm Chasers: Revenge of the Twister, Tornado Warning (2002)


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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