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The Storm Makers

Review

The Storm Makers

written by Jennifer E. Smith, illustrated by Brett Helquist

Eleven-year-old twins Ruby and Simon have been living on a farm with their parents in Wisconsin for just over a year. Ruby longs for their old life in suburban Chicago, but Simon, a star baseball player, has made many friends in their new rural home. However, things aren’t perfect for Simon this summer: his parents are struggling financially, he is feeling more distant from his father, and his bad mood is made worse by the drought that threatens the family’s meager crops. When a stranger emerges from the barn one morning and lightning seems to be flying from Simon’s fingers, Ruby knows things are about to radically change for her and her brother.

In Jennifer E. Smith’s first middle-grade novel, THE STORM MAKERS,  Ruby and Simon learn they have a tremendous power, one that can save their family or destroy them completely.

"THE STORM MAKERS is a good choice for young readers looking for a unique story of adversity, mystery and action with likable characters and a few thrilling surprises."

The stranger in the barn is Otis Gray, and he has arrived for Simon. While Simon is in the hospital with a sudden illness, Otis tells Ruby that her brother has the ability to create and control weather. As Otis is a Storm Maker himself, and one with the ability to find new Storm Makers, he recognizes Simon as the youngest Storm Maker ever discovered.  But Simon has also been discovered by Rupert London, the Chairman of a secret group of Storm Makers.  Ruby innately trusts Otis, but Simon is charmed by the charismatic Rupert, who tells Simon he can teach him to wield great power. The twins are at odds until they meet Daisy, a young local mechanic who seems to also understand Simon’s talent and who can make the earth shake at will. Daisy and Otis convince Simon of Rupert’s dangerous agenda but are unable to help him make even a drop of rain.

Soon Ruby and Simon head for Chicago to confront Rupert. What happens first on a skyscraper roof with Rupert, and then in the building’s basement with a giant compass, will change their lives --- and the lives of their family and new friends --- in unexpected ways.

Smith’s tale is a fun and interesting adventure. As the characters assert, Storm Making is a mix of science and magic, just like this story. Driven by conflict and love between the twins, Smith adds a tense family subplot with fantastic results. Wonderful illustrations by Brett Helquist (of A Series of Unfortunate Events fame) add energy and visual interest. Lacking the intensity and horror of many contemporary children’s fantasy novels, THE STORM MAKERS is a good choice for young readers looking for a unique story of adversity, mystery and action with likable characters and a few thrilling surprises.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on June 23, 2015

The Storm Makers
written by Jennifer E. Smith, illustrated by Brett Helquist

  • Publication Date: April 3, 2012
  • Genres: Adventure, Children's, Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316179582
  • ISBN-13: 9780316179584