Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman was my young readers’ choice for Nebraska, and I must admit I was kind of disappointed in this one. Granted, the premise pretty much indicates that there’s not much plot to this one beyond the storm(s), but I guess I was expecting more than just a play-by-play–although, again, given the premise, I’m not sure how much more could have been done without being totally irrelevant.

As far as it goes, it is a great description of the twisters–sounds, colors, hail, damage, clean up. It’s based on a true story–there really is a city of Grand Island, Nebraska, which was struck by seven tornadoes on June 3, 1980, several of which moved in unusual patterns, and which left massive destruction in their wake.

The characters are pretty well-drawn for such a short book, and there was a discussion between the kids about their feelings of guilt, which I thought was important for a young readers’ book. The boys ask, “Did I cause this?” even though they both acknowledge that they know rationally that they didn’t, which is a common reaction among survivors of any tragedy, but especially kids. They’re never shown talking to an adult about their feelings, and there’s not much more to it, but at least it’s in there.

I’m not sure there’s much beyond the tornadoes to mark the book as taking place in Nebraska, though Ruckman does mention the Mennonites who came to Grand Island to help in the aftermath, which reminded me of Haven’s Wake.

I guess it would be an exciting book for kids–I think my 10 year old would probably like it–but it wasn’t really complex enough for me.

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