REVIEW OF JACK VS. THE TORNADO
Jack vs. the Tornado by Amanda Cleary Eastep is the first book in the series, The Tree Street Kids, and tells the story about ten-year-old Jack Finch. He has to leave his home on a farm and move to the suburbs so his dad can find a better job. Unhappy about this change and dreaming about earning enough money to move back to their farmhouse, Jack gets a job helping repair an old man’s house. Jack is befriended by Ellison who introduces him to some of the neighborhood kids and invites him to join their club, the Tree Street Kids. Although they become friends, Jack doesn’t want to get too close because he’s still hoping to move back to the farm. While working at the old man’s house, Jack and Ellison find a mysterious bump in the ground and dig it up only to discover that it is the entrance to an old bomb shelter.
Jack invites the gang to visit his old farmhouse, but during the trip, they are disappointed to realize Jack’s intention to leave the suburbs – and them – behind as soon as possible. Back in the suburbs, the kids are working at the old man’s house when a tornado hits, which they survive by hiding inside the bomb shelter. When Jack and his family go back to check on the farmhouse he discovers that it was destroyed by the tornado along with his hopes of returning there.
Jack finally accepts that he won’t be moving back to his old home and that he has been harboring a bad attitude and acting selfishly. He salvages the farmhouse door and brings it back with him to finish fixing the old man’s house. In doing so, he closes the door on the first chapter of his life. He opens a new one by joining the Tree Street Kids club and looks forward to new adventures.
The book for 8-11-year-old readers was a fun read. I liked the short chapters which pulled me along with the action. The characters were very real in their thoughts and feelings, and the author captured the way a kid thinks. For example, when Jack realized he’d been selfish, he didn’t dwell on it for six chapters, he just said he was sorry and actually stopped doing it. His friends, in turn, just let it go, which is how kid friendships often work. The story communicates a very subtle Christian message which I think anyone might appreciate. The author doesn’t moralize, but the story itself encourages themes of friendship, not being selfish, and learning to accept change in life. Personally, I prefer a book that has more obvious Christian teaching woven in, but this story is definitely a good set-up for a great kids’ book series and I highly recommend it.
Josie Murdock is 10 years old and lives with her family on a research farm in South Carolina. She is homeschooled and loves reading, drawing, and foxes.
BOOK TRAILER FOR BOOKS 1 & 2
Josie is passing along her gently used copy of this book. It would make a special present to the young reader in your life. To enter, just leave your name with a comment by November 14.