In toe-tapping, jazz-chant verse, author, bookseller, and PW blogger Bluemle (How Do You Wokka-Wokka?) writes about the way a sudden thunderstorm “makes friends/ of strangers.” At the story’s start, two boys in a playground gaze through iron railings at a girl in a yellow dress hurrying to keep up with her father. On an ordinary day she’d disappear into the crowd, but when the rain starts pelting down, the boys, the girl and her father, and half a dozen others dash for the subway station: “Feet wetter?/ You’d better/ go down/ underground,/ where the water/can’t getcha./ You betcha.” Over photographic images of subway fixtures, Karas (The Apple Orchard Riddle) draws people chatting, sharing pizza, and shrinking away as their dogs shake themselves off, balancing the force of the storm with the warmth of city-dwellers sharing an unexpected break in their day. Bluemle’s story unfolds on a scale just right for preschoolers, with plenty of hullaballoo, subtle attention to the senses, and an affirmation of the way misfortune can lead to small miracles. Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.)
Seen through the eyes of adults, children, and dogs, readers experience the fun, fear, and finally the new-found friendship through one of Mother Nature’s noisiest gifts: the thunderstorm. Kayas’ collage puts pictures to the onomatopoeic language commonly used in this oversized tribute to a storm in the city. While Bluemle’s text evokes pictures, Kayas’ illustrations express emotions drawn large on the faces that are caught in the street and taken by surprise as the drops begin to fall. Umbrellas are sold, raised, shared, and given to protect citizens on the streets. Picnicking, sailing, waiting, hurrying, walkingit’s all here. As businessmen, children, dogs, musicians, sports enthusiasts and others rush to the only place that they know will be drythe subwaythe theme of this urban scramble is captured in the following lines: “The storm above makes friends of strangers. We laugh under cover at thunder and danger.” With the passing of the storm, new acquaintances emerge from down under to a bright, clean day and the surprise of color in the sky. This title is recommended for teaching the concept of onomatopoeia, life in the city, or the brief nature of thunderstorms. Oversized pages work well for reading aloud to groups. No doubt, the younger audience will enjoy making the repeated sounds of storms as reflected in the title. Reviewer: Janice DeLong; Ages 4 to 7.
Children's Literature - Janice DeLong
PreS-Gr 2—An enormous raindrop opposite the title page introduces readers to the reflected setting—an urban playground, seen from above. The perspective shifts to a child's-eye view on the opening spread as two friends gaze through the wrought iron gates at the ominous clouds. Karas's winsome, multicultural caricatures inhabit a neighborhood that appears lifelike due to his use of photographs for buildings and subway details. As children and adults dash between the showers and thunderbolts to the safety of the underground station, Bluemle's taut, clever verse propels the plot: "Feet wetter?/You'd better/go down/underground,/where the water/can't getcha./You betcha." Down below, dogs shake out their fur on everyone, a bagpiper and drummer serenade the crowd, pizza is divided, and umbrellas are shared—the storm forms a community. Although the weather is a threatening presence, the underlying cozy mood is set by the warm, creamy backgrounds that stage the gouache, pencil, and collage scenes. When the group emerges back up into the daylight, a dazzling surprise awaits them. The titular refrain—printed in a bigger, bolder font—offers multiple possibilities for audience participation as the story progresses. This upbeat rendition of a common experience will have universal appeal. Don't wait for a rainy day to share the fun.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library
A sudden thunderstorm inspires an impromptu gathering of congenial strangers. It all begins with darkening skies and a few drops of rain. Out come the umbrellas as the thunder roars, the wind swirls, and the rain comes pouring down. People make a run for it to the shelter of the subway. There are lots of smiles and laughter and sharing—a brief communal moment—and then it's over, and everyone disperses to see a rainbow: "[s]urprise in sky." Bluemle employs bouncy, fast-paced rhymes and rhythms with words that emphasize sound and movement. The title phrase repeats throughout, augmented by "slam bang" and with an additional "crackle" to indicate lightning as the storm intensifies. The text, appropriately varied in size and boldness to match the storm's activity, moves across mostly double-paged spreads and intermingles with the illustrations. Karas, perhaps influenced by Mo Willems' Knuffle Bunny, sets gouache and pencil drawings within collages of photographs of New York City. Backgrounds appear subtly rain-washed or as faded sepia photos of buildings. Blacks, grays and earth tones are highlighted with taxi-yellow and occasional pops of orange, red and green. The ethnically diverse characters are animated as they head for the subway stairs, and there are delightful details to elicit giggles from young readers. Cuddle up for a rainy-day adventure. (Picture book. 3-7)
'Tap Tap Boom Boom' offers a smaller, anecdotal slice of New York life... quotidian but magical, the kind of interruption in routine that might loom large in a small child's eyes and is rendered evocatively here. G. Brian Karas's illustrations, which combine drawings and photographs, capture the crazy yellow light of a summer storm while the onomatopoetic title, used as a refrain in the text, renders the sound of big, juicy raindrops splattering on concrete as thunder cracks overhead.
—The New York Times Book Review
In toe-tapping, jazz-chant verse, author, bookseller, and PW blogger Bluemle writes about the way a sudden thunderstorm "makes friends/ of strangers." ... Bluemle’s story unfolds on a scale just right for preschoolers, with plenty of hullaballoo, subtle attention to the senses, and an affirmation of the way misfortune can lead to small miracles.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Bluemle employs bouncy, fast-paced rhymes and rhythms with words that emphasize sound and movement. ... The text, appropriately varied in size and boldness to match the storm’s activity, moves across mostly double-paged spreads and intermingles with the illustrations. Karas ... sets gouache and pencil drawings within collages of photographs of New York City. ... The ethnically diverse characters are animated as they head for the subway stairs, and there are delightful details to elicit giggles from young readers. Cuddle up for a rainy-day adventure.
Children will enjoy following the various characters as they put up umbrellas, splash through puddles, and run for cover down the subway stairs... Karas’ colorful, detailed, and lively pictures—created using photographs, gouache, and pencil—are the perfect vehicle for Bluemle’s succinct, catchy rhymes that energetically describe a sudden rainstorm in the city.
Karas’s winsome, multicultural caricatures inhabit a neighborhood that appears lifelike due to his use of photographs for buildings and subway details. As children and adults dash between the showers and thunderbolts to the safety of the underground station, Bluemle’s taut, clever verse propels the plot: "Feet wetter?/You’d better/go down/underground,/where the water/can’t getcha./You betcha." ... This upbeat rendition of a common experience will have universal appeal. Don’t wait for a rainy day to share the fun.
—School Library Journal
The sonorous language of Bluemle’s rhythmic text makes it a pleasure to read aloud... Karas’ illustrations—a mixture of photographs, gouache, and pencil—are as expressive and detailed as always, and the combination of media expertly captures both the energy of a big city and the quietness of a pause in the commotion.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The poetic rhythm of the language mimics the stages of the storm and the tempo of the citizens’ footsteps. Though minimal, the text is powerful, and works well with the illustrations to create positive feelings about the weather. Grey, brown, and black dominate throughout, surrounding the reader with the feel of a messy, urban thunderstorm; however, the overall connotation of the story is upbeat. This story begs to be read aloud and is sure to have young readers booming and tapping along.
—Library Media Connection
Elizabeth Bluemle's simple, musical rhymes and G. Brian Karas's photo, gouache and pencil collages capture the way a thunderstorm in the city unites a community. ... A rainy day delight.
—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Illustrator G. Brian Karas places readers right in the center of the action. Combined with Bluemle’s immediate, first-person sentences, it’s as if we’re in danger of getting soaked ourselves. The collaged photos of city scenes—along with Karas’ gouache and pencil additions—make for intriguing textures and add concreteness to this warm-hearted story of community. ... This is one storm readers will be pleased to participate in.