Great Gusts: Winds of the World and the Science Behind Them

Candlewick/MIT Kids. Mar. 2024. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536224511.
Gr 4-6–“Can you ever really see the wind?” “Can you ever really know the wind?” Two short questions and poetic suggestions toward the beginning of this book invite readers to personally experience wind. “Lift your face to the breeze—/ let it bathe your cheeks/ sift through your hair/ tease your fingertips./ Listen/ while the wind whispers its name.” This fanciful idea of the whisper leads directly to the “Bull’s-Eye Squall,” a poem about the squall blowing off the coast of South Africa. The winding tour goes on through 13 more places around the world where specially named winds blow across land, water, mountains, cities, deserts, and snowy expanses. Stops include Japan, the Pennine Mountain Range in Northern England, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Windy City of Chicago. Short lines of poetry, mostly blank verse, flow down picture book pages to terse explanations. Simple, digitally created scenes often include children, sometimes with a local animal. Softly shaded sweeps of sky and curving lines swirling everywhere show the wind’s direction. End materials add brief comments on air in motion making the wind, the local naming of wind, and local poetic traditions used in a few poems. Geographic locations of the listed winds are shown as numbers on a circular globe, and there’s a glossary and short bibliography of related children’s books. The picture book format suggests a younger audience, but children in the middle grades will likely not be familiar with all of the named locations or readily grasp the fairly technical explanations. Some poems read aloud could spark classroom discussion and lead to further study of the ever-growing presence of wind.
VERDICT Put this book of poems in the hands of talented science teachers.

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