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Children's LiteratureBased on the true events of June 3, 1980, in Grand Island, Nebraska, this novel chronicles the experiences of fictional character twelve-year-old Dan Hatch and his friend Arthur on a night when seven tornadoes battered the area, destroying over 500 homes and leaving four people dead. Alone with Dan's baby brother, Dan and Arthur have to use every scrap of courage they can find to keep themselves and the baby safe, reunite with their families, and eventually save an elderly neighbor. Ruckman's careful detailing of the tornado hitting the house and the ensuing damage, along with the destruction of the town, bring the events vividly home to the reader. Some adults might question Dan's mother's decision to allow the boys to reenter the destroyed, and now dangerous neighborhood in order to find Mrs. Smiley while she stays behind to care for the baby, but kids will find it exciting and daring. Upper elementary students who love adventure will race through this fast-paced story. 2003 (orig. 1984), HarperTrophy/HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12.
—Anne Marie Pace