In elementary school, students frequently ask to
read "chapter books" by the end of the second grade. With this transitioning
from picture books based primarily on pictures, to novels built on
vocabulary, students enter a new world in reading development.
Several problems exist with these "early chapter
books." First the students often don’t have the vocabulary needed to advance
to these novels. Second, while their attention spans are growing, their
ability to concentrate remains limited. Finally, it can be difficult to find
stories that are interesting due to the limited vocabulary and cognitive
development of these younger students.
Betsy Byars has addressed some of these issues in
her fine novel, "Tornado." While both sexes will enjoy this book,
boys will find a particular interest in the themes presented by the author.
The sky begins darkening in Tornado Alley, the
swath of area that covers the borders of Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Peter, the farm hand, shouts out the frightening word "twister."
Two young boys look as the twirling, snakelike
tornado descends from the clouds. Their mother helps the old grandmother
down the steps as they frantically try to reach the storm cellar. They
barely have time to open the doors and get in before the twister descends on
them. As they hang on for dear life, all remember that their father did not
make it to the cellar before the cyclone struck.
To allay the fears of the young boys, Pete begins
telling the story of a whirlwind that hit his farm when he was a young boy.
His family had hurried into a root cellar to escape the fury of the tornado.
In a matter of minutes the twister tore its way across their farm and their
lives. The roof of their house was hurled like a piece of paper in their
Amid all the destruction and debris, a doghouse
had somehow descended from the heavens and landed near the well. In the
smashed structure, a moan could be heard. Young Pete eventually got up the
nerve to look inside the doghouse.
To his immense surprise, a large, black dog lay
trapped inside. How in the world had a doghouse been carried so far by the
twister? Even stranger, how had the dog survived?
The young boy bent down and tried to uncover the
dog. After a while, the black dog pushed his way out of the wreckage. When
he heard the word "supper" he bounded to the back door. Pete had just had a
pet delivered to him by a tornado.
What kind of dog was this airborne creature? Why
was he so friendly? What did Pete learn that the dog could do that was
remarkable? How fast did it take Pete to fall in love with the black dog?
What had happened to his original owners? To find out the answers to these
questions, please go to the library and check out "Tornado" by Betsy
Betsy Byars is one of the most beloved writers in
the field of children’s literature. She has dozens of publications in the
field, and has won numerous awards for her work.
This early chapter book will keep the interest of young readers without
proving to be too daunting. The boy’s love for the dog will ensure this
book’s popularity. I hope the children in your family get a chance to read
this excellent story. They will like the novel. Enjoy!