Thunder Cake

Author and Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Growing up in a house with 3 porches, my sisters and I often chose to sit out a thunderstorm while under blankets on one of them. The front porch had a swing, the side porch was screened in and the  back porch often had something to eat that hadn’t fit in the kitchen cupboards. So the usual pattern was to hit the back porch, load up, go to the side porch until the worst was over, and end up swinging on the front porch. It was a pretty good ritual unless lightning came and mom made us get in the house – fast!

(I should quickly add that my bravery in facing thunderstorms was apparent only when the 3 of us stayed together. I certainly never had a “solo” storm party!)  Even now, reading the book Thunder Cake, I have an instant identification with the young child in the story.

“The air was hot, heavy and damp. A loud clap of thunder shook the house, rattled the windows and made me grab her (Grandma) close. ‘Steady, child,’ she cooed. ‘Unless you let go of me, we won’t be able to make a Thunder Cake today!'” As Grandma and the child rush around the farm gathering all the ingredients for their cake before the storm reaches them, a change slowly begins to take place in the child. She gets the eggs from old Nellie Peck Hen, the milk from old Kick Cow, the sugar and flour from the shed in Tangleweed Woods. The detailed illustrations of Grandma milking the cow, the child gazing lovingly and trustingly into her Grandma’s face will make you feel the emotion in each page. How delicious do you think their Thunder Cake was – just as the rain began to pour down upon the roof? Well, you can try it for yourself as the directions for this yummy cake are given at the end of the story, and will be posted in Fireflies tomorrow. Now you only have to hope for a rainy day!

Mary Byrne Kline
CONTACT

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“Let’s find that recipe, child,” she crowed as she lovingly fingered the grease-stained pages to a creased spot. “here it is…Thunder Cake!”

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A loud clap of thunder shook the house, rattled the windows and made me grab her close. “Steady, child, ” she cooed. “Unless you let go of me, we won’t be able to make a Thunder Cake today!”

Tomorrow:  Let’s make a Thunder Cake together!
[Don’t miss the interview with Polacco – see below.]
Suggested age: 4 – 8 years
Questions:
  1. Grandma said, “We’ve got everything but the secret ingredient.” What do you think the secret ingredient was?
  2. Why did Grandma have the child begin counting when she saw lightning and stop when she heard thunder?  Is this really true?
  3. How did Grandma prove to the child that she had been brave?

INTERVIEW with Patricia Polacco
Comments on Thunder Cake comes about 9 min into video.

Wonderful interview about Polacco’s family, background, reading struggles, etc.  It’s worth watching.  (BTW, we are huge Polacco fans.)  Be sure to check out all of her books.
 

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