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4.8 out of 5 stars
Thunder Cake
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of author/illustrator Patricia Polacco, and this book is one of the best of her incredible catalogue: It contains all the essential ingredients that go into a "Polacco." She returns here to her Michigan childhood, and her loving memories of her grandmother "Babushka." Polacco's detailed reminiscence describes how Babushka helped her overcome a fear of thunderstorms.
We identify with the frightened young heroine partly because Polacco so convincingly describes the power and noise of a Midwest thunderstorm. Gradually, Polacco shows how Babushka's patient, strong doses of hugs, distraction, reassurance, and the promise of a special treat gave her the self-confidence to face and surmount her fear. Analyze this too deeply and you'll recognize some basic child-rearing techniques, but Polacco infuses these with so much warmth that they seem to spring, sui generis, from some old folk wisdom held by Babushkas everywhere. The result is a genuinely exciting and lovingly told story enlivened by the fact that it is true.
Polacco's illustrations are a treasure. She has a unique style that combines American influences (Rockwell, American primitives, early cartoons) with eastern European folk art, all drawn in her trademark loopy style. She paints brightly colored, organic looking objects, people, and animals that convey emotion and invite empathy. This is a visual equivalent of a great short story, it seems that every color and line adds to the value of the narrative; yet her achievement remains informal and friendly; it never feels studied or precious. Polacco's sense of fun and tradition, her celebration of family, loved ones, and reminiscence, and her bold imagination remind me of Chagall (though not nearly as abstract.) As usual, she includes her signature goat drawings, recalling as well Chagall's animal motifs.
There's a satisfying warm glow one gets after reading this book; her other books evoke similar feelings. Although praised by many for her outstanding talents, I still somehow feel that she deserves even more recognition as one of the best ever children's book writers/illustrators. Enthusiastically recommended!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of author/illustrator Patricia Polacco, and this book is one of the best of her incredible catalogue: It contains all the essential ingredients that go into a "Polacco." She returns here to her Michigan childhood, and her loving memories of her grandmother "Babushka." Polacco's detailed reminiscence describes how Babushka helped her overcome a fear of thunderstorms.
We identify with the frightened young heroine partly because Polacco so convincingly describes the power and noise of a Midwest thunderstorm. Gradually, Polacco shows how Babushka's patient, strong doses of hugs, distraction, reassurance, and the promise of a special treat gave her the self-confidence to face and surmount her fear. Analyze this too deeply and you'll recognize some basic child-rearing techniques, but Polacco infuses these with so much warmth that they seem to spring, sui generis, from some old folk wisdom held by Babushkas everywhere. The result is a genuinely exciting and lovingly told story enlivened by the fact that it is true.
Polacco's illustrations are a treasure. She has a unique style that combines American influences (Rockwell, American primitives, early cartoons) with eastern European folk art, all drawn in her trademark loopy style. She paints brightly colored, organic looking objects, people, and animals that convey emotion and invite empathy. This is a visual equivalent of a great short story, it seems that every color and line adds to the value of the narrative; yet her achievement remains informal and friendly; it never feels studied or precious. Polacco's sense of fun and tradition, her celebration of family, loved ones, and reminiscence, and her bold imagination remind me of Chagall (though not nearly as abstract.) As usual, she includes her signature goat drawings, recalling as well Chagall's animal motifs.
There's a satisfying warm glow one gets after reading this book; her other books evoke similar feelings. Although praised by many for her outstanding talents, I still somehow feel that she deserves even more recognition as one of the best ever children's book writers/illustrators.
Enthusiastically recommended!
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
My daughter's first grade teacher read this book to the class, and then served thunder cake (gives the recipe in the back of the book.) We had to buy the book, and now grandma is planning to read it and make it with the grandkids on a stormy day.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am a 3rd grade teacher who finds Polacco's work to be exceptional, not only in its' written form, but with its' vibrant, eye-catching illustrations. Polacco has a remarkable way of taking the reader back in time with her, to her very own childhood, as in "Thundercake." "Thundercake" is a universal story of a little girl overcoming her fear of thunderstorms while baking a cake with her grandmother.It is a story that speaks to many children in showing them that they can overcome their fears. I highly recommend any of Polacco's books. She will take the reader to such simple places as her grandparent's farm in Michigan,as well as to such exotic places as Old World Russia, where her family is from. Polacco is a jewel that sparkles above the rest!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
The story takes place in the summer in Michigan on a farm. It is summer storm season and the grandmother has her grandaughter over. The grandaughter is afraid of thunder, so the grandmother bakes a cake to take away her fears. They quickly got all the ingredients and made the cake. If you make the cake before the storm hits, you made thunder cake. I highly recommend this book for children 4 and up. This is a humorous book by Patricia Polacco.
Eric C.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
This story was really cute! My step-sister loved this book and when we made the cake, everyone gobbled it up, despite the interesting secret ingredient! Everyone always loves this yummy cake, and this cute story!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I love Patricia Polacco's books, especially this one. I enjoyed this book immensely. She writes about herself as a little girl, visiting her grandmother in Michigan. As a little girl, Polacco was terrified of thunderstorms. In this book, she recalls her times with her grandmother, Babushka. Through her detailed description of her time spent with her Babushka, the reader feels as if he/she is walking along side Polacco as a little girl and her grandmother, right before a storm. The reader is cheering Polacco on, as her grandmother helps her get over her fears of the storm.

Through Polacco's strong vocabulary, she describes the extent of the thunderstorm. She uses words such as bellowed and sultry, which are great words to teach children. Polacco shows the reader a loving relationship between granddaughter and grandmother. Children can relate to both being afraid of something and have a close relationship with a grandmother. This loving book is made even better with Polacco's fun illustrations. The faces of the characters are so detailed, that it is easy for a reader to see how the character is feeling without even reading the words.

I would recommend all of Patricia Polacco's books, but this one is one of my favorites. Many kids are afraid of thunderstorms and this book is a great book to help children overcome their fears of thunder, or any other fear.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
A Grandma and little girl were together. There was about to be a thunder storm and the little girl was afraid of thunder. Together they made a thunder cake. If they didn't finish in time it wouldn't be a real thunder cake. I recommend this book to 1st graders. Joy G.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is adorable! My daughter's second-grade teacher read it to the class, and told me that my daughter loved it, so I went out and bought a copy. The relationship between the little girl and her grandmother is endearing. The recipe looks good. And I love all the farm animals. Perhaps, my favorite is Grandmother's cat. It twists and turns into different shapes like a pretzel --and not unlike a real cat. Another added attraction about this book. Recommended!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Our daughter was petrified of all loud noises, especially thunder. We found this book and it became her favorite. Every approaching storm she would go get her book. We even made the cake several times. It was delicious! This book helped her thru some very scary stuff and she always smiled when we finished. For parents of thunder-scared children, I highly recommend it.
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