Change can be scary, especially a change caused by a natural event or disaster that is out of our hands. That’s the premise of author Petra Brown’s newest picture book, When the Wind Blew.
The book opens to a quiet night of snoozing, snuggling and sweet dreams as a big brown bear and a cuddly little bear get their beauty sleep. As little ones are prone to do, Little Bear awakes the moment he hears a “roaring sort of sound,” but he soon goes back to sleep when Big Bear reassures him that it’s only the wind.
But when Little Bear and Big Bear finally awake and step outside to fetch breakfast, Little Bear is shocked. The forest trees that stretched to the sky only yesterday have been knocked over by the wind. Things seem scary and uncertain. Thanks goodness Big Bear is there to answer questions.
When the Wind Blew is a visually and conceptually beautiful book that is so much more than just a book about forest animals. It is also about life and the lightning-fast and ofttimes irreversible changes that happen as we live it — and in many cases, often while little ones are asleep. It is about adults and guardians providing stability and security and words of wisdom and comfort when scary things happen. It’s about children gaining strength from that wisdom and realizing that life does indeed go on.
Ms. Brown’s prose is sweet, innocent and so realistic that young readers will easily identify with Little Bear’s hopes and fears. Her illustrations capture the warm and fuzzy look that we associate with bears, including expressions of love, confusion and hope on the bears’ faces. She uses soft pastels and warm earth tones to offer picture book lovers everything from the peaceful darkness of the bears’ slumber chamber to the shocking view of once-proud trees snapped off at their base to a pristine lake flanked by soft blue mountains.
Use this book in early elementary classrooms as a jumping off point for discussions about change, fear, and moving forward in life. This book also makes a nice lap book before, during or just after stormy evenings at home.