I Am a Tornado

­Atheneum. May 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665916745.
PreS-Gr 2–Tornado, feeling itself, tosses everything in its path, then picks up a cow as it angrily sweeps through the plains. Cow, unfazed, asks to be put down. In digital art with the look of paper cut-outs, the textures giving off a vibe of tumbleweeds and desert towns, a story unfolds that cannot be shelved just along science titles; add this one to the SEL collection, too. The cow, upside down and perhaps seeing stars, asks Tornado if it’s okay. “WHY WOULD I NOT BE OKAY?” retorts Tornado, explaining that it is the spinning winds that give it power. The back and forth of the ensuing conversation, as Tornado picks up steam and then begins to lose it (the cow is getting heavier and heavier), perfectly encapsulates some of the physics behind a storm’s force. Tornado, finally no more than a tiny bundle of breezes, asks as night falls if the cow will keep it company, for the end is near. And then the storm is over. The writing could not be more preschooler friendly, the subtext available for discussion among young elementary readers, and paired with a more fact-based book, this is a winning lesson for all kinds of turmoil.
VERDICT With humor and grace, Beckmeyer’s wide-eyed characters convey emotions bridging science topics and SEL, putting this whirlwind of a book within the grasp of readers across a broad age range.

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