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The Storm Makers    by Jennifer E. Smith Amazon.com order for
Storm Makers
by Jennifer E. Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Would controlling the weather be a good or bad thing? This is a question that is raised in Jennifer E. Smith's The Storm Makers, fantasy for middle graders.

Ruby McDuff's summer has not started so well. A heat-wave and drought is making their farm unbearable, and her twin brother Simon has been acting strange since school let out. Unless things turn around soon, Ruby's family might have to pack up and move back to Chicago. Things do take a dramatic turn, but not in any way that Ruby could imagine.

It all starts when she sees a strange man coming out of their barn. Later that day, Simon electrocutes the toaster and then a car battery. Ruby finds the strange man shortly afterwards and learns that Simon is a Storm Maker the youngest on record. Unfortunately, the evil leader of the Makers of Storm Society is after Simon to further his nefarious plans to escalate natural disasters on Earth. It is up to Ruby and her new friends to help Simon and avert further disasters.

It is rare to see a fantasy novel written from the point of view of the one without powers, but that is basically what Jennifer E. Smith does, and succeeds very well at it. Instead of following Simon as he discovers his new powers, we follow Ruby as she looks out for him, which helps the plot follow a more orderly track. The plot is fun, even if it gets a little muddled rising up to the climax, but the characters are really memorable. Smith does such a good job of bringing them to life that it is easy to imagine them fully without Brett Helquist's wonderful illustrations.

The Storm Makers is a cute middle grade novel. Jennifer E. Smith's unique concept makes it an engaging read that fans of the science or magic of weather will enjoy.

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