Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Storm Makers

The Storm Makers

Jennifer E. Smith
Illustrator:  Brett Helquist 
For ages 9 to 12
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012   ISBN: 978-0316179584

It is summertime, and the land around the farm is brown and dry. Ruby and her twin brother Simon spend much of their time trying to stay cool, and Ruby cannot help wishing that this summer was more like the summers they used to have when they lived in the suburbs of Chicago. Back then, she and Simon had fun together, riding their bicycles, and building a tree house, but now there seems to be a gulf between them that Ruby does not know how to cross.

One morning Ruby sees a strange man coming out of their barn, and soon after strange things start to happen. First, Simon seems to create a mini lightning bolt and he fries the toaster. Then, when they go to town to have the truck worked on, Simon manages to fry the truck’s battery in the same way.

Then Simon gets a sudden fever and it begins to rain heavily. When his fever does not abate, Simon’s parents decide to take him to the emergency room. While they are waiting for Simon to be released, the strange man who was in Ruby’s barn turns up and he tells Ruby the most extraordinary thing. According to him, Simon is a Storm Maker, a person who can manipulate the weather. The man, Otis Gray, tells Ruby that Simon is very special because he is the youngest person to develop such an ability. Usually people are at least in their late teens before they find out that they are a Storm Maker, but Simon is still just a kid. Otis explains that Storm Makers have always used their abilities to stabilize the weather, and to therefore help people.

The day after Simon’s strange bout of fever, Ruby takes him to meet Otis, hoping that the strange man can help Simon understand what it means to be a Storm Maker, but Otis does not meet the children at the prearranged place, and Ruby and Simon are left not knowing if the whole Storm Maker thing is even real.

Then they meet a different man, a Storm Maker called Rupert London who explains that he is the Chairman of the Makers of Storms Society. Simon is very taken with Rupert London, but Ruby is not. Something about the man does not feel right, and when he demonstrates his Storm Maker ability by destroying the crops in someone’s field, she is convinced that he is bad news. Storm Makers are supposed to help people, not damage their property. She is sure that it would be much better to talk to Otis than it would be to talk to Rupert London, but she has no idea how to find Otis, nor does she know how best to help Simon deal with his new and potentially dangerous ability.

In this memorable story, the author presents readers with a tale that is packed with mystery and excitement. It is interesting to see how the children cope with the changes in their lives, and how they come to understand that Simon’s abilities come with a rather frightening amount of responsibility. Would you like being able to create a snow day? Certainly. Would you want the ability to cause death and destruction? Probably not.