Storm Watcher by Maria V. Snyder
Published: October 2013 by Leap Books
Format/Source: ARC from BookExpo America 2013
Genre: Middle grade contemporary
Luke Riley is lost. His mother’s recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three Bloodhounds are search and rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again. The summer after sixth grade looms in Luke’s mind as a long, lonely three months where the only thing he can look forward to is watching The Weather Channel. Luke is fascinated with the weather, but since his mother’s death in a storm, he is also terrified. Even the promised 13th birthday present of a Bloodhound puppy fails to lift Luke’s spirits. He would rather have a different breed – a petite Papillon, but his father insists he get a Bloodhound.
When Luke decides to get the Bloodhound from Willajean, a dog breeder who owns Storm Watcher Kennel, he works out a deal to help at her kennel in exchange for the expensive dog. Thrilled to have a summer with a purpose, Luke befriends Willajean’s daughter, Megan and together they plan how Luke can get a Papillon puppy instead of a Bloodhound. But nothing seems to work as they struggle with stubborn fathers, summer storms, unhelpful siblings, and hidden guilt. Can one little white dog really save both families?
When I reached Ms. Snyder in the autographing line, I gushed, “I loved the Study series! I’m excited for this book!” Her eyes paused over me for a moment longer than what was necessarily comfortable or expected and she said, “This book is nothing like the Study series.” I was taken a little aback and mumbled an, “Oh, okay! Well I’m looking forward to it.” She signed the book and I quickly walked away, a little ashamed and red in the face.
I couldn’t get that memory out of my mind when I picked up Storm Watcher to begin reading. But it really didn’t take long to understand the merit behind what she had said. Storm Watcher is not the Study series. I haven’t read her other books, but I would assume that it varies from them as well. Storm Watcher is a middle grade contemporary story about a boy dealing with loss and finding love where he had grown to accept its loss.
Storm Watcher is written in that simple and yet artful style that first made me love the Study series. Luke has lost his mother and is grappling with the loss. He is terrified of storms in a family of search and rescue dog trainers. He wants a Papillion instead of another Bloodhound in his family.
I’m a twenty-something year old woman and I loved the book despite it being meant for 9-14 year old. The weather symbols to describe different things and what was happening were really artful. It really shows what an experienced writer Ms. Snyder is. It also made a lot more sense once I read Ms. Snyder’s new bio about being a meteorologist—you can totally see the connection with the details. It was an intelligent read that did not speak down to the reader. The drama was real; it was something that I was instantly relatable despite never having been in a similar situation.
I would definitely recommend this book for children, and really anyone who can appreciate a middle grade book. I would also recommend having a dog to cuddle with while enjoying the story. It really makes you pine for one.
My rating: 5/5