Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Thunder Cake , a grandmother helps her granddaughter overcome her fear of thunder by baking a special cake while a storm threatens. Although the book's concept is good, it does not fulfill its promise. The story is poorly paced: the storm approaches rapidly, but does not break for several pages as Polacco crams in details, including a lengthy pause while the cake bakes. The illustrations are less than appealing: both characters' faces are chalky white, draining them of life. Many of the barnyard animals are drawn out of proportion--Grandmother is almost the same size as a cow she milks, geese are as tall as people. Considering how many children are afraid of thunder, it is a shame Thunder Cake is not a stronger effort. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Thunderstorms can be frightening and so unnerving. Polacco's book provides a delicious solution to the problem -spend the time baking a special thunder cake. Time flies when you are having fun with grandmother and can ignore the flashes and crashes that fill the sky. A recipe is included. The illustrations are filled with the bright colors and patterns of Russian folk art.
Children's Literature - Debra Briatico
Patricia Polacco reaches back into her own childhood to tell this remarkable story about how her Babushka helped her overcome her fear of thunder. In this tale, a grandmother and her granddaughter rush around the farm to find all the ingredients for a "Thunder Cake." By the time they gather and mix the ingredients, bake the cake, frost it, and add strawberries, the storm moves away. Bright folk art illustrations help Polacco present a convincing tale that turns a frightening experience into an adventure and celebration. The author also includes the Thunder Cake recipe for interested readers.
Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott Ford
Most kids love puns so they will undoubtedly be enthusiastic about this book which opens with Max the taxi driver looking out the window and seeing spring showers. The accompanying illustration features corkscrew springs raining down upon the neighborhood. Another particularly appealing illustration is the picture of the airport that is all socked in. Max and his canary yellow taxi appear in every one of the author's boldly colored illustrations. Max encounters strange sights all over the city, including a traffic jam and a big toe truck. This is a great book to read to, or with, a couple of youngsters. Children able to read on their own, however, will enjoy trying out these word plays on their families and friends. They'll surely get a case of the silly giggles as they look at the pictures of the baseball diamond and the strawberry float. They will just have to be careful and watch out for the fork in the road.
Grover (Circles and Squares Everywhere!, 1996, etc.) mines wordplay with plenty of energy and color, but the sequence of events, concepts, and images are forced and clanky. Max the taxi driver takes his fares to various locales: an airport all socked in with socks; a fork in the road where Max must drive around the silverware; a tooth ferry for a little girl heading for an island dentist. The attempts at zaniness range from strained"I need a break. I'd better stop for lunch and musical chairs"to clever, as when a family asks Max's advice on something fun to do. "Why not go bowling?" suggests Max, taking them to a bowl store for an afternoon of browsing. Grover's intense palette and artwork have instant appeal, but the vibrant colors are doing all the work and can't compensate for the stodgy text.