With a natural poetic rhythm, the nonfiction picture book Zap! Clap! Boom!: The Story of a Thunderstorm by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Ellie MacKay (Bloomsbury, February 2023) skillfully depicts the development and impact of a thunderstorm. The text takes readers on a journey from a calm day to the formation of clouds and the eventual arrival of a strong thunderstorm. Along with the text, gorgeous illustrations show a narrative with three children and their animals before, during, and after the storm.
In addition to the natural rhythm in the text, Laura Purdie Salas effectively uses onomatopoeia and action words to convey the suddenness and intensity of the storm, making it an engaging read aloud for the adult and the children. Her poetic narrative is only complemented by Ellie McKay’s stunning illustrations.
The illustrations, created with a combination of 3-D paper layers and digital art, add depth and vibrancy to the narrative. As the thunderstorm unfolds, the children’s interactions with the changing environment become a focal point. The illustrations vividly capture the various stages of the storm, from the gathering clouds to the fierce winds and flashes of lightning, and the contrasting color schemes, shifting from vibrant greens to dark purples and blues, effectively convey the shifting mood and atmosphere.
The book not only entertains and educates in the main text, but it also provides insights into the science behind storms and further resources for exploration in a few pages of end matter. It would be a great addition to units on severe weather or other natural phenomena.
In all, Zap! Clap! Boom!: The Story of a Thunderstorm beautifully captures the power and beauty of a thunderstorm, with a lovely contrast between the dark and menacing pages during the storm and the serene landscapes before and after, showcasing the transformative power of nature. Combining these images with the engaging nonfiction narrative, the book create an immersive reading experience that is both visually stunning and emotionally resonant. Zap! Clap! Boom! leaves readers with a sense of awe and a newfound appreciation for the wonders of nature.