Thunder Cake

Thunder Cake

by Patricia Polacco


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, August 28


A loud clap of thunder booms, and rattles the windows of Grandma's old farmhouse. "This is Thunder Cake baking weather," calls Grandma, as she and her granddaughter hurry to gather the ingredients around the farm. A real Thunder Cake must reach the oven before the storm arrives. But the list of ingredients is long and not easy to find . . . and the storm is coming closer all the time!

Reaching once again into her rich childhood experience, Patricia Polacco tells the memorable story of how her grandma—her Babushka—helped her overcome her fear of thunder when she was a little girl. Ms. Polacco's vivid memories of her grandmother's endearing answer to a child's fear, accompanied by her bright folk-art illustrations, turn a frightening thunderstorm into an adventure and ultimately . . . a celebration!

Whether the first clap of thunder finds you buried under the bedcovers or happily anticipating the coming storm, Thunder Cake is a story that will bring new meaning and possibility to the excitement of a thunderstorm.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780698115811
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 08/28/1997
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 23,639
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.12(d)
Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

About the Author

"I was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1944. Soon after my birth I lived in Williamston, Michigan and then moved onto my grandparents farm in Union City, Michigan.

"I lived on the farm with my mom and Grandparents until 1949. That is when my Babushka (my grandmother) died and we prepared to move away from Michigan. I must say that living on that little farm with them was the most magical time of my life...and that my Babushka and other grandparents were some of the most inspirational people in my life.

"My parents were divorced when I was 3, and both my father and mother moved back into the homes of their parents. I spent the school year with my mother, and the summers with my dad. In both households I was the apple of my grandparents' eyes! I would say that these relationships with my grandparents have most definitely influenced my life and my work. You probably have noticed that in almost every book that I write there is a very young person who is interacting with an elderly person. Personally, I feel that this is the most valuable experience of my life....having the wonder of knowing both children and elderly people.

"The respect that I learned as a very young person certainly carried over into my life in later years. I have always like hearing stories from these folks. My genuine curiosity for the wonder of living a very long life prepared me to accept the declining years of my own parents.

"To get back to the farm in Union City...this place was so magical to me that I have never forgotten it! This was the place where I heard such wonderful stories told...this was the place that a real meteor fell into our font yard...that very meteorite is now our family headstone in the graveyard here in Union City.

"Did I tell you that I now live in Union City? This is after living in Oakland, California for almost 37 years. But, you see, every year I'd come back to Michigan to see my Dad and family.


"In 1949 we left the farm to move, first to Coral Gables, Florida. I lived there with my Mom and my brother, Richard, for almost 3 years. Then we moved to Oakland, California. I remained there for most of my young life on into my adulthood. We lived on Ocean View Drive in the Rockridge District. What I loved the most about this neighborhood is that all of my neighbors came in as many colors, ideas and religions as there are people on the planet. How lucky I was to know so many people that were so different and yet so much alike.

"It is on Ocean View that I met my best friend, Stewart Grinnell Washington. We are best friends to this day! He has a younger brother, Winston and three sisters; Jackie, Terry and Robin. When I was a student in elementary school I wasn't a very good student. I had a terrible time with reading and math. As a matter of fact, I did not learn how to read until I was almost 14 years old. Can you imagine what it was like to see all my friends do so well in school and I wasn't! I thought I was dumb. I didn't like school because there was this boy that always teased me and made me feel even dumber. When I was fourteen, it was learned that I have a learning disability. It is called dyslexia. I felt trapped in a body that wouldn't do what everybody else could do. That was when one of my hero's, my teacher, found what was wrong with me and got me the help I needed to succeed in school. Of course, now that I am an adult, I realize that being learning disabled does not mean DUMB AT ALL! As a matter of fact, I have learned that being learning disabled only means that I cannot learn the way most of you do. As a matter of fact, most learning disabled children are actually GENIUSES! Once I learned how to read and caught up with the rest of my fellow students, I did very well.

"I went on to University, majored in Fine Art, then went on to do a graduate degree and even ended up with a Ph.D. in Art History. For a time I restored ancient pieces of art for museums. I eventually became the mother of two children, Steven and Traci, and devoted much of my days to their education and upbringing.

"I did not start writing children's books until I was 41 years old. Mind you the "art" has always been there for me most of my life. Apparently one of the symptoms of my disability in academics is the ability of draw very, very well. So drawing, painting and sculpture has always been a part of my life even before I started illustrating my books. The books were quite a surprise, really. Mind you, I came from a family of incredible storytellers. My mother's people were from the Ukraine and father's people were from Ireland. My extended family,(Stewart's family) were from the bayous of Louisiana...also great story tellers. When you are raised on HEARING stories.....NOT SEEING THEM, you become very good at telling stories yourself. So at the age of 41 I started putting stories that I told down on paper and did drawings to help illustrate them...I guess the rest is history.

"I have enjoyed a wonderful career of writing books for children . Who could have guessed that little girl that was having such a tough time in school would end up an illustrator and author. Children and adults alike ask me where I get my ideas...I get them from the same place that you do....MY IMAGINATION... I would guess the reason my imagination is so fertile is because I came from storytelling and, WE DID NOT OWN A T.V.!!!!!!!!! You see, when one is a writer, actor, dancer, musician; a creator of any kind, he or she does these things because they listen to that "voice" inside of them. All of us have that "voice". It is where all inspired thoughts come from....but when you have electronic screens in front, of you, speaking that voice for you... it DROWNS OUT THE VOICE! When I talk to children and aspiring writers, I always ask them to listen to the voice, turn off the T.V. and


"Now that I have moved back to Union City I am intending to open my house and community and invite people to come there to take part in writing seminars, story telling festivals, literature conferences and various events that celebrate children's literature."

Born Patricia Ann Barber in Lansing, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other, Patricia Polacco grew up in both California and Michigan. Her school year was spent in Oakland, California, and summers in her beloved Michigan. She describes her family members as marvelous storytellers. "My fondest memories are of sitting around a stove or open fire, eating apples and popping corn while listening to the old ones tell glorious stories about their homeland and the past. We are tenacious traditionalists and sentimentalists.... With each retelling our stories gain a little more Umph!"

Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an M.F.A. and a Ph. D. in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Patricia Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects here in the U.S. that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.

The mother of a grown son and a daughter, Patricia Polacco currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Thunder Cake 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Anonymous 23 days ago
Good book
RebeccaMichelet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this story there was a girl who has a grandmother from Russia, but who is now living in Michigan where there are many summer storms. The little girl loved visiting her grandmother, but she was always afraid of thunder. One day, while she was hiding under the bed during a thunder storm, her grandmother told her to get up and help her bake a thunder cake. As the storm approached the little girl walked outside to get the ingredients she needed; tomatoes, strawberries, eggs, chocolate, sugar, flour, and milk. As the girl retrieved the ingredients, both she and her grandmother counted how far the storm was so they could prepare for its arrival. At the end of the story, as the girl ate her cake, her grandmother praised her for being brave. She was never afraid of thunder after that.
JanetB2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Heartwarming story of a little girl who faces her fears about thunderstorms with the help of her grandmother.
LacyPalmer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a little girl who was afraid of storms, and her grandma helped her overcome her fear. The would count from the lightning to the thunder to see how far the storm was. As they were doing this they were gathering materials for the Thunder Cake. Finally, they made the cake just in time and enjoyed while the storm went on. She was never afraid of the thunder again.
Kcarline143 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A little girl spends time with her grandma but is afraid of the lightning. With her grandmother she tells her about counting in between lightning and thunder. She gathers materials fr the Thundercake. When she is done her grandmother tells her how brave she was.
lakertraw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book to read to address the issue of overcoming your fears. In this tale, a little girl is afraid of lightening. Her grandmother helps her by making a cake through the thunderstorm. She encourages her to do things, that she is afraid of but bravely does inspite of her fears.
MalissaLojszczyk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A young girl is afraid of storms. ONe day, when a storm is approachingm, her grandmother teaches her to face her fear. Together, they gather the ingredients to make Thunder Cake. They make the cake and enjoy it during the storm. The girl learns that you can be brave AND scared. Bravery is persevering even though you are afraid.
MelAKnee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Patrica Polacco tells the tale of how her grandma helped her overcome her fear of thunder by facing it and fetching the ingredients to make a delicious cake. Wonderful illustrations and a heartwarming story that has a sweet ending.
jrlandry1410 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is about a child who is afraid of thunder, and how their grandmother distracts them from their fear by teaching them to make "Thunder cake". A great story about the bonds of family and overcoming your fears.
mlsweatman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great story that explains a childs terror of storms. The author explains that the grandmother tells stories to keep the childs mind of the weather. The pictures are always really good in Polacco's stories but I really enjoyed the pictures tremendously in this story. Her stories are so good for children because she always explains things that children can relate to. In this story it is thunderstorms.
WilliamBarnes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this is a story about a little girl and how her grandmother helps her get over her fear of lightning. the little girl must round up ingredients for a cake, such as milk and eggs, all while counting the seconds between the thunder and lightning to determine how far away it is. This would be a great book to get children talking about fears that they have and how one can overcome them.
ReneePesheck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thunder Cake was a story introduced to me in Summer School for incoming third graders. This story is about a young girl and her grandmother who make a cake during a storm to conquer the girl's fears about thunder. Fun story with interesting dialogue from the grandma. All the kids wanted the recipe - good connection with young readers!
ktextor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a young girl who is afraid of the thunderstorm that is about to come into her town in Michigan. The little girls Babushka or grandmother helps her overcome her fear by helping her bake a thunder cake and in the process the little girl begins to loose her fear of the storm. The books shows how the grandmother was so proud of the girl that she was able to overcome her fear and to help make the thunder cake.
dangerlibearian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Long but awesome, a grandma teaches her granddaughter how to be brave during a storm. They make a thundercake, gather all the ingredients, at each step the little girl has to overcome her fear, soon she forgets all about the storm and has yummy cake to eat. Recipe in the back-cake has tomatoes in it?!
JTNguyen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Patricia Polacco relates on her own experience about her fear of thunder when she was younger. Her grandmother helps her get through the fear of thunder by getting her to go out and gather all the ingredients to make thunder cake. Her grandmother wanted to make the the best out of being stuck indoors and which better way than to bake a thunder cake and enjoy it while there is a thunderstorm outside.
kloupe1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book; this reminds me of what my grandmother used to do to distract us from those bad summer storms. Being from New Orleans with all of the tropical storms that children have to come to school in, this would be a good book to read and make thunder cake for one of those horribly rainy days when half the students show for class. I would definitely have to read it again to the whole class, of course!
psjones on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book! It is great to read aloud to students on a rainy day in the spring. I loved this book as a child and it comforted me during thunderstorms. This is a book I would read aloud to the class.
abruser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Thunder Cake" by Patricia Polacco is about a young girl and her grandmother's adevnture making a "thunder cake". The young girl is afraid of the stormy weather and the loud sounds of thunder. To cope with the weather and the fear, her grandmother suggests that they bake a cake together. The girl ends up confronts many of her fears throughout the book.
cvyork on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a favorite from my childhood. Reading it as an adult reminds me of why I liked it so much.
BSUTeacherinTraining More than 1 year ago
I'll start this by saying that my memory of life as a child any time before age 8 or 9 is very spotty. There was a lot of violence in my home that led to trauma and shock which thankfully allowed my brain to simply forget it all, or at least not keep a lot of memories from my primary grades. However, this book is one of the only ones I remember being read to me in Kindergarten. For some reason, be it the adorable illustrations, the high vocabulary and level of imagery, or the way Polacco tells a timeless memoir in a way that any child can relate to, this book stuck out to me and made a lasting impression. I cherish its simplicity and subtle meanings, along with the way the grandmother's intelligence is presented throughout the story with her way of wording what the child had done into a reflective lesson like your traditional wise old lady figure. Another favorite is the fact that the grandmother is drawn the way a grandmother should be: warm, wrinkled, greying, and even a little tubby! The accuracy makes the story and the characters more relatable in a way that makes the story timeless, even if the child reading has never been to a farm or had to go out to a shed to get cocoa for their cake. Overall, Polacco's story is a classic for me that will become a staple in my future classroom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great for the days when the thunder scares the little ones help pass the time and not be so afraid
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are afraid of thunder this is a book that you can relate to. The book, Thundercake, by Patricia Polacco is awesome because it teaches a very valuable lesson. The little girl in this story is afraid of thunder. When she visits her Babushka, thunder comes into town! When the little girl goes under the bed, her Babushka asks," Why do you go under the bed?" The little girl said that she is afraid of the thunder. When her Babushka hears that she says, "Let's go make thundercakes." The little girl counts how many miles the thunder is away from them. They have to bake the cakes before the lightening reaches them. If you want to find out if they make it or not, then you have to read the whole book. I think this book was awesome so I give Thundercake an excellent 5 out of 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eothelibrarian More than 1 year ago
Patricia Polacco writes a dear story of a grandmother, her Babushka, and her granddaughter, Patricia herself, that will help, if not banish your thunder fears. It is a true story, told in a way you can interact during the story and after it is over, bake your own Thunder Cake using the recipe at the end. Polacco is a teller of unforgettable tales, most if not all, are based on true experiences. After reading all her books, some many times, to hundreds of children, I promise you too will find her books enchanting. Polacco does her own art work, which is delightful. I met her once and told her that I loved Chicken Sunday the best. She smiled at me and replied, " How kind of you." I would like to suggest you discover Polacco's talents that will bring you and your listeners joy beyond measure.