________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 8 . . . .December 8, 2006


W is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet.

Pat Michaels. Illustrated by Melanie Rose.
Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2006.
40 pp., cloth, $23.95.
ISBN 1-58536-237-9.

Subject Headings:
Weather-Juvenile literature.
Alphabets-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4



M is for Meteorologist.

How will we know what tomorrow may bring?
The weather is constantly changing everything.
It’s a serious challenge to say it will rain.
Especially when there is much to lose or gain.

Some meteorologists are the weather forecasters you see each day on television. These forecasters put together computer graphics using satellite and radar images to tell viewers how the weather will affect them. Many television forecasters stand in front of a large screen, with the weather graphics added behind them during the broadcast in a computerized process called color or chroma keying. The weather graphics look as if they are actually behind the weather person. Doing the weather in front of a chroma key wall can sometimes be tricky, since the television meteorologist is actually pointing to a blank wall.


Over the past few years, alphabet books such as this one have become increasingly popular. These books cover a wide variety of topics—ballet, poetry, hockey, to name a few—and provide readers with general information. However, with various authors and publishing companies involved in producing the books, there is bound to be some inconsistency in the quality of the writing. W is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet has both strengths and weaknesses.

internal art     On the plus side, all of the pages have a similar layout. Each letter of the alphabet is presented in upper and lower case on a wide colored band with one or two entries. For example, the entries for the letter “D” are dew point and dust devil. These terms are explained in short paragraphs giving just the basic facts. A four-line poem and an accompanying illustration enhance the text. Almost half of the entries are shown on double-page spreads. Topics include different types of precipitation, extreme weather, the ozone layer, glaciers and tools used by weather forecasters. Measurements are written both in metric and Imperial form. The book’s main strength lies in the wonderful colour illustrations, some of which have been infused with a bit of humour. For instance, the “C is for Cloud” page shows two youngsters relaxing on a hay bale and gazing at a large sheep-shaped cloud while, in the distance, a flock of sheep is grazing; on the “P is for Precipitation” page, a dog owner takes her pet out on a snowy day so the pet can produce a little “precipitation” of his own. Although the illustrations are lively and bright, there are a few which don’t completely relate to the text. The drawing for “B”, for example, matches the main text but not the poem.

      As with any alphabet book, it is often difficult to find suitable words relating to the main topic for “Q” and the last few letters of the alphabet. This book is no different, and some of the entries are a bit of a stretch (even some of the more common letters could have had better examples). But the main weaknesses of the book are a couple of typos, errors in subject-verb agreement and sentence structure, and the lack of explanations (or a glossary) for words such as graupel which will likely be new to most readers. Some of the poems are downright silly, actually detracting from the expository text rather than enhancing it, and many of them are awkward to recite or read because of their poor rhythm.

      Despite some of its weaknesses, the book does have a place in public and school libraries. However, purchase only if there is money to spare in the budget.


Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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