I’m not sure what I expected when I started reading reviews of my books. After receiving a few, I’ve come to appreciate the diversity of voices offering the reviews — librarians, teachers, bloggers, book review magazines like Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and children themselves. What continues to amaze me is the masterful writing in the reviews. Some literally take my breath away. Enjoy!
“Whipping, wild wind calls a grandmother and her grandson out-of-doors into the frenzied, fantastic fray with a kite and giddy grins.
Electric colors (cerulean blues, emerald greens, brilliant magentas) evoke the kinetic energy that crackles before a storm and the irrepressible excitement a good squall brings out in young and old. Who really feels gray and dreary right before a proper storm? Cheerful, phosphorescent illustrations stretch across double-page spreads, with the boy’s flapping kite, the salty seaside town, its beach and white-capped ocean all bending to the wind’s howl.
When the Wind Blows by Linda Booth Sweeney has a writing style that makes turning each page feel as if the wind itself is blowing the reader toward the end of the book. Uncommon for a children’s book, the story is written in verse and uses poetic language that describes how things throughout the city move as the wind blows. Conveying how each item moves in the wind only requires that Sweeney use a simple two-word sentence. By the ocean, “water ripples. Buckets tumble. Birds scurry. Castles crumble.” In the park, “strollers stroll. Kites glide. Bells clang. Puppies hide.” Further description of each item is not needed because paired together, one can imagine the setting and envision the images that Sweeney tries to create. The lyrical verse paints an image of how the wind’s movement has various effects, from sails and boats out at sea to swings and wheels at the park. As if the beautifully and carefully-selected words aren’t enough, Christy’s illustrations show items as they move with the wind. White lines fill the page, representing the wind’s every move.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
“SWEENEY, Linda Booth. When the Wind Blows. illus. by Jana Christy. 32p. Putnam. Feb. 2015.
For many people, a windstorm might be reason to stay inside safe and sound. However, the family in this book looks at a windy day as an adventurous day for kite-flying fun. Simple, rhythmic two-word phrases appear on each page in four-line stanza. “When the wind blows” repeats every three stanzas to create a dependable structure in this poetic text. Strong verbs such as “whistles,” “flicker,” “swish,” and “clang” allow readers to experience the blustery day with sounds, feeling, and imagery.
Sweeney, Linda Booth (Author) , Christy, Jana (Illustrator)
Feb 2015. 32 p. Putnam, hardcover.
This picture-book tribute to windy days features satisfying, singsongy rhyming couplets that creatively describe a variety of windblown neighborhood adventures. Beginning with basic descriptors (“Windows rattle. / Doors creeaaak. / Chimes sing. / We peek”), the action tracks Mom, Grandma, a young boy, and his toddler sister as they fly kites, visit the seashore, splash in puddles, chase after hats, and dodge raindrops.
Linda Booth Sweeney (The Systems Thinking Playbook), making her children’s book debut, and Jana Christy (How to Hug) pay homage to the changing of seasons in this picture book tale of a warmhearted family and their cozy seaside home.
Laundry wafts on the line as a child and dog peer out of an upstairs window in a blue-roofed cape house. “When the wind blows…” reads the opening line in a hand-lettered purple that matches the home’s exterior. “Windows rattle./ Doors creeaaak./ Chimes sing./ We peek,” the text continues in white type that pops against cornflower blue skies. Grandma takes the boy and dog out to fly a yellow kite, while his mother, clad in a blue coat, pushes a baby in a red stroller. A lighthouse hints at a nearby body of water, and cows complete the pastoral scene.
“The moment you touch and open this book, its wisdom is evident. This is the wisdom of wholes, of belonging, and connecting the dots to see the richer tapestry of life.”
–Raffi, singer, author, founder of Child Honoring
“Artfully, beautifully, playfully, seriously, clearly Linda Booth Sweeney invites us to join her in a deeper understanding of the profound principles of living systems. Tapping wisdom connected to many cultures and many times, Linda weaves memorable simple stories into a tapestry holding enormous complexity. A book that is at once a work of art, a representation of science, and an invitation to think more deeply and playfully, Connected Wisdom is a gift. Whether the reader is six or sixty, it matters not. These pages open us more fully to the world around us.”
–Judy Sorum Brown, Author, Senior Fellow, The James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership
“Beautiful …. The writing so seamlessly tied together [the author’s] ecological concepts with the stories … chosen. And such handsome bookmaking! I am doing a keynote on tales of kindness for the National Storytelling Network Conference in Hawaii and will add this to my bibliography.”
–Margaret Read MacDonald, Author and storyteller
“Our actions, connected to the people and the natural world around us, are not only worth seeing, it is the point at which you are actually seeing. Connected Wisdom uses simple language, pictures, and parables to explain and beautifully illustrate natural principles in our relationships to each other and the natural world. This book helps parents and children alike see our world made up of many parts for what it is – connected.”
–Steve Swenson, Aldo Leopold Foundation
–Margaret Read MacDonald, Author and storyteller
Systems thinking provides structure to understanding our complex world. Stories, whether our own or selections from literature, offer a powerful hook to recognition of the interconnectedness within a system. As an educator, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of systems thinking, but somewhat intimidated by its complexity. After reading and rereading WHEN A BUTTERFLY SNEEZES, I have a far deeper understanding of its power.
I’’ve long believed in the power of story to enhance understanding. This little book affirms that belief.
Thank you, Linda Booth Sweeney, for this fine work.
— Phyllis MacDonald
I have used some of the same stories described in Linda’s book in training courses with environmental professionals from many countries as well as in introducing systems thinking into my own organization. There is a universal appeal to stories by Dr. Seuss, for example, and much wisdom hidden just behind the wild drawings and imaginative language. Linda’s unique contribution lies in showing teachers and parents how they can use a wide range of enchanting stories to tap into this deeper meaning in order to improve problem solving abilities in everyday life. The book’s recommendations on using stories can easily be applied to improving our parenting and teaching skills by listening more carefully to the stories children tell, asking better questions, and sharing responsibility with our children for interpreting the answers.
— By Don Robadue