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Thunder Cake

Thunder Cake

4.6 15
by Patricia Polacco

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When the air gets heavy and dark clouds drift low over the fields of Grandma's farm, her frightened granddaughter hides under the bed. But Grandma insists that this is Thunder Cake baking weather and the two are soon scrambling to gather the ingredients to make the cake--and get it into the oven before the storm arrives. Full color.


When the air gets heavy and dark clouds drift low over the fields of Grandma's farm, her frightened granddaughter hides under the bed. But Grandma insists that this is Thunder Cake baking weather and the two are soon scrambling to gather the ingredients to make the cake--and get it into the oven before the storm arrives. Full color.

Editorial Reviews

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.
Kirkus Reviews
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.

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.06(w) x 10.31(h) x 0.13(d)
630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet 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 Russia...my 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.

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Thunder Cake 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great way to help children overcome fear of thunder. Fantastic illustrations. Interactive as recipe for Thundercake is included.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Patricia Pollaco gives warmth and wisdom in every book that she writes, and makes them unforgetable through the ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a sweet story of the relationship of a little girl and her grandmother. The little girl is scared of thunderstorms and other things on her grandma's farm. Grandma shows her how to be brave.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Thunder Cake is a good book. It helps kids get rid of their fear of thunder storms. In the book there is a thunder storm and they bake a cake to make them forget about the storm. That¿s why it makes kids get rid of there of their fear of thunder storms. It¿s a good book for children .For parents that like baking there is a recipe on the back. I give this book a five star rating. This is a really good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thunder cake is an amazing book. It's about a girl at her grandma's and whenever she hears thunder she hides under her bed. Her grandma shows the girl how brave she really is. Her grandma teaches her to make a thunder cake. To make a thunder cake you have to make it right when the storm is happening. When she overcomes her fear they all eat Thunder cake. It was a great book. I liked how the text filled the room with warmth and love,I also liked how it had a recipe of the thunder cake at the back of the book! This is a great book for a stormy day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. This book, Thunder Cake has been my all time favorite since the third grade, now I'm in the 10th, and still love it. If I am correct, this was the first book I ever checked out of my school library. I have read this book 20 times. It's a great story to read to young children. It's about a girl, Patricia Polacco, who visits her grandmother and helps out on the farm. The title comes from the name of the cake Patricia and her grandmother makes. At the end of the story there is the ingredients to the cake. This is fun because you and your child could actually pretend that you are like Patricia and her grandmother and make you own thunder cake. So help make this one of your childs favorite book and buy it and read it, and you would have fun with it to!
Guest More than 1 year ago
With the help of her grandmother the little girl discovered her courage and overcame her fear of thunderstorms. While the text conveys tension and reminds the reader about the storm, the pictures provide warmth and comfort. The reader is absorbed into the picture forgetting about the storm.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thunder Cake is an extravegant book.I liked how a girl overcame her fear of thunder by bakeing a cake.The girl's grandma makes her do brave chores. By completeing those tasks she overcomes things without knowing it. I espcially love that they have the recipe for thunder cake in the back of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
She is my favorite author! All her books just make you love her and her family. After you read one of her books you will want to read more so you can meet her other family members. Oh, the characters she has! Warmth and love fill the text!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thunder Cake is such a wonderful book it teaches children not to fear thunderstorms and also gives them something to look forward to. My children thought of there grandmother when we read this book. And it made them feel really good as there grandmother has sinced past away.