The Storm in the Barn

The Storm in the Barn

by Matt Phelan


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Tall tale. Thriller. Gripping historical fiction. This artful, sparely told graphic novel — a tale of a boy in Dust Bowl America — will resonate with young readers today.

In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father’s failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of "dust dementia" would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot’s abandoned barn — a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it’s hard to trust what you see with your own eyes — and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes. With phenomenal pacing, sensitivity, and a sure command of suspense, Matt Phelan ushers us into a world where desperation is transformed by unexpected courage.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763652906
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 09/27/2011
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 287,112
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.30(d)
Lexile: GN560L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 Years

About the Author

Matt Phelan is the illustrator of many books for young readers, including ALWAYS by Ann Stott and THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY by Susan Patron, winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal. THE STORM IN THE BARN is his first graphic novel. He lives in Philadelphia.

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Storm in the Barn 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
claudiathelibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
5Q- excellent graphic novel that includes detailed images, economical use of text (dialogue) to support the images. Great use of fantasy to explore a historic event.5P- graphic novels are very popular and the simple but weighty images will draw in readers. The main character, 11 year old Jack, and the fantasy element will make this a popular read.
aakauff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As the Dust Bowl is sweeping across Kansas, Jack Clark, only 12-years old, is seeing visions of a strange figure throughout the barren landscape. Intrigued by the apparition and desperate to please his indifferent father, Jack sets out to confront the figure and solve the mystery of the drought. The muted illustrations range from drab gray-brownish to deep hues of red, offering just the right balance to this forlorn story of strained family relations and hard times. The subject of this fantastical graphic novel is certainly not joyful, but young Jack¿s attempt to bring rain to his despairing community makes for an absorbing storyline. Moreover, the sparse text and quick-moving action of the panels will keep the reader¿s interest. Although appropriate for a middle school audience, high school students may be better suited to the harsh subject matter. For ages 13-18. Recommended.
sassafras on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A tale of the Dust Bowl, told from the point of view of an eleven-year old boy. It has been four years since rain last fell on this small Kansas town and the toll it has taken on the town and its people is clear. Jack's sister is ill and there have been no crops to tend since the rain stopped falling. Jack's parents have lost hope, so if Jack's dad can fix the car, his family will leave town. However, on an abandoned, neighboring property is an old barn, to which Jack is drawn. The barn is dark and spooky inside, but Jack senses something. What could it be and could it be the answer to the town's prayers?This is a wonderful folk tale told in graphic novel form. The stark pictures and bleak text match the historical period and work well to tell the story. This story is recommended to anyone who likes to read about the Dust Bowl era and also excellent for young gentleman readers.
delatte on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting piece of historical fiction in comic form. The author's notes may inspire future graphic novelists.
kivarson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bullied by classmates and deemed useless by his father, can Clark bring rain to the dustbowl by facing down a demon?
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A combination of historical fiction and fantasy/folklore make up this strange tale that takes place during the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s. A family has been suffering for four years now without rain. The eldest daughter has dust pneumonia, the youngest has never seen rain, the father cannot work the farm on his own, the mother realizes they must pull up stakes and move and now 11yo Jack, our hero, has been too young to help around the farm as he grew over the years. He thinks he is a klutz and he has started seeing things; those around him think he has come down with dust dementia. As anyone who regularly reads my reviews knows, I love fantasy but I really did not like the fantasy element in this story. I would have enjoyed it much more as a straight historical fiction. The strange King of Storms Jack meets in the neighbour's barn was just plain weird and made know sense whatsoever. There were also way too many wordless pages for my enjoyment. Finally, while the artwork did suit the time period it didn't impress me, I found it wishy-washy. This book has received rave reviews but I'm going to have to beg to differ as the whole thing left me feeling 'meh'.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This gem of a historical graphic novel just won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and I am not surprised one bit. Jack is a scrawny 11-year-old in 1937 Kansas. Since the dust took over, he's had no way to prove himself useful to his family (he should be a strapping farm boy, but... no farm...). The town boys pick on him, his older sister has taken ill, and all looks hopeless. But when Jack sees a strange light coming from the neighbor's abandoned barn, he starts to investigate. Though everyone thinks he's crazy, Jack knows that something is hiding in there. What he doesn't know is that what's hiding there will save everyone if Jack is brave enough to face it. From the color palette to the facial expressions, this is a beautiful piece of work with a great author's note. Although the muted color palette (throughout most of the book) and the subject matter may not have kids clamoring for it on their own, this will make a valuable addition to classrooms studying the Depression and the Dust Bowl. Highly deserving of its recognition.
PatsyAdams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grade Level: 3+Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, FantasyThemes: Growing up, sickness, Bullying, Dust BowlIn this graphic novel, Jack Clark is eleven years old and hasn't seen the rain in 4 years. His little sister can't remember rain. His older sister is has dust pneumonia. Jack is at an age where he wants to help but his father won't let him. Jack has encounters with the town bullies and also a few with the storm king who resides in an empty barn. Finally Jack steals the thunder and brings it outside because where there is thunder, there is rain. His father finally really sees him and wants Jack to help as the rain pours down on them both.This was a great book. Very few words for the size of the book. Lets the reader use their imagination. There were a few pretty graphic inferences in the novel. The townspeople penned up a few hundred jackrabbits and clubbed them to death because the were eating the little food that was left on the land. It showed the impact that this left on the adults who participated which I would talk to the students about. Great book to use to have the kids tell the story as they looked at the pictures.
Poemyhero on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A really interesting way of depicting what it was like during the Dust Bowl, and the impact that it had on the people. I liked it...didn't love it but I liked it. The art certainly played a role in my liking it, and really gave the story life.
elfchild on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What growing up during the Dust Bowl years of the 30s looks like from the point of view of a young boy who hasn't seen rain in 4 years. What happened to the rain? There is a fantastical element to the story, but it does not detract from it being excellent historical fiction.Whelan drew me in to the story and had me googling for more information about the Dust Bowl years. I'll be reading more and there is no higher compliment for historical fiction than to interest one in the actual history. We'll be purchasing our own copy.ETA: It sounds like I am bothered by the fantastical elements. I'm not. I love them - I just wanted to warn folks that this is not pure historical fiction.
ShellyCBuchanan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of a young boy growing up on a farm in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years. It has literally been years since it rained, his sister spend most of her time under a net due to disease from the dry weather and dust, his father will not allow him to help in any material way on the farm and the town boys constantly threaten him and knock him around. A little bit folklore, historical fictional and coming of age, this is the story of a young boy who comes into his own during very hard times through the power of his imagination and sheer force of will. The powerful drawings evoke the desperation of the era and and inward pain of a young boy coming into manhood. The limited text starkly highlight the difficult relationships at one turn and tender moments at others.
jdieder104 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The setting is Kansas during the Dust Bowl. Jack is the main character and has two sister, Mom and Dad. The dust bowl has been going on for 4 long years without rain. Jack's sister has dust peunomonia and coughts all the time. Jack is teased and bullie by some boys in town. Jack's life is gloomy until.....Jack fights King of rain. He fights the king of rain to open his bag where thunder is let out. Thunder begins to roar and rain finally comes down. Jack overcomes many obstacles in this book.
ragingaddgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while I find myself trying to explain something and find that I am completely at a loss. The Storm in the Barn is a book that leaves me in much the same condition; speechless.While not entirely wordless, the images in this graphic novel tell the story. The words are secondary. Jack could be any boy during that time. With sketches and watercolors, Matt Phelan recreates the desolate landscape of Kansas during the 1930¿s. In the story, Jack¿s sister is reading books from the Oz series, and similar to the movie, the reality of Kansas is illustrated in muted colors while the memories and fantasy have far more vibrant colors. It is very easy to flip through this story as there aren¿t many words. I had to slow myself down. While I was always trying to get to the next page, to see what happens next, I kept having to stop myself from turning the page too soon as I didn¿t want to miss anything either. A beautiful story and it would make a great companion to Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.
cathyskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First Line: The dust can have it.I have been fascinated with the Dust Bowl era in America since reading Timothy Egan's marvelous book, The Worst Hard Time. As a result, I find myself keeping an eye peeled for likely fiction and non-fiction written about the period. When The Storm in the Barn appeared on one of my daily emails from Paperback Swap, I snapped it up without checking into it very much. I'm glad I didn't check the facts; otherwise, I wouldn't have requested this graphic novel.The time is 1937 in a Kansas that's slowly being blown away in the unceasing winds. Jack Clark is eleven. Now that he's big enough to do chores around the farm, there isn't any farm left. His father thought of packing up and leaving, but their old vehicle won't start. Mr. Clark has a worthless farm, a worthless vehicle, a wife who's worn down from work and worry, a daughter who has dust pneumonia and likes to read the Wizard of Oz books-- and Jack, a scrawny, dreamy boy whom the town bullies love.Jack is so dreamy that the doctor tells his parents that he has dust dementia, so when Jack sees a frightening, shadowy figure in a barn, he doesn't tell anyone about it. What's the use? No one's going to believe him anyway. But when push comes to shove, he's a little boy who wants desperately to help his family, and he decides to confront that big, scary shadow in the barn. You see... he's figured out what it is.There is so little text in The Storm in the Barn that some readers may yearn for more. My own yearning lasted only the first few pages because I was completely drawn into Phelan's atmospheric drawings. The dust is ever-present, blurring the lines of the familiar and turning everyday things into hidden bogey men and coating the world in a thick layer of hopelessness. Through the dust, young Jack's burning desire to make a difference to his family shines like a beacon.Phelan paints a worthy visual companion to other Dust Bowl literature, and I'm glad that his book is the first graphic novel I've read.
DrApple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have not yet "gotten" graphic novels. This one tells the story of a young boy and his family being plaqued by the Dust Bowl. It has a mythic quality.
Intisar More than 1 year ago
It's been a while since I read a graphic novel, and even longer since I was so deeply impressed by what I read--or saw, in the case of this book. The Storm in the Barn is probably geared towards middle graders, telling the story of an eleven year old boy and his family living on a desolate farm during the Dust Bowl. As an adult, it was captivating. This story has almost no words; this is a story of silences, words unspoken, and fears both spoken and dreamt. The young hero, Jack Clark, must face bullies, a deep sense of failure in meeting his father's expectations, a dust-related illness that leaves his eldest sister bedridden, and a deep sense of hopelessness. That's a lot for a child, and in some ways Jack is older than his years--believably so. He's had to grow up a little too fast, and it shows. But as he begins to uncover the mystery of the presence in the abandoned barn on the next farm over, Jack begins to come into his own. It's a beautiful, gripping story--and a very quick read for adults. Highly recommended.
CatsInSpace More than 1 year ago
In Kansas in 1937 there wasn’t much left of the once-hearty croplands except dry soil. The soil was so dry that it blew around in the wind, giving the area the nickname the “Dust Bowl.” People had to abandon their farmland and homes and travel west in hopes of finding work, food, and a better life. The dust was choking the life out of them and all they knew. Into this setting, author/illustrator Matt Phelan places eleven-year-old Jack Clark in the graphic novel The Storm in the Barn. One of Jack’s sisters is sick with a terrible cough the doctor calls “dust pneumonia” and believes Jack may have “dust dementia” due to his rash actions. Jack starts to believe the doctor when he sees a man-like being with a face like rain in the neighbor’s abandoned barn. Jack is scared of what he sees, but he must face his fear if he hopes to save his family and everyone else from the all-encompassing dust. The story itself is a great mystery and a hero’s tale of a young boy who gets beaten down by bullies yet has the strength to face the unknown. But the story is not the best part of this book. Phelan’s illustrations are simply amazing. The pencil sketches are beautiful, portraying the dust in sweeping strokes and the characters’ faces in expressive simplicity. Phelan can show so much with so few marks on the page. It is because of the illustrations that this book caught my eye and kept me turning pages. The silence hits you across the drawings, across the pages, so you feel like you are in that dry wasteland with nothing but the wind swirling around you. It doesn’t matter if the reader is interested in the Great Depression or not—he or she will be engrossed by this awesome book. Readers who enjoyed Brian Selznick’s works The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck could love this book as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this book! it is really interesting and the pictures have such good detail! You should get this book
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