Jack vs. the Tornado (Book Review)

  • Author: Amanda Cleary Eastep
  • Illustrator: Aedan Peterson
  • Series: Tree Street Kids #1
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • On-Sale Now!
  • Synopsis: Despite moving to a new town, ten-year-old Jack Finch is convinced that he’s just a few hundred bucks away from returning to his old home on the family farm. With a plan to pocket a few Ben Franklins before summer’s end, Jack isn’t at all prepared for the season’s surprises.

This was a fun title I came across on the Moody Publishing website, and I am interested in reading book two. I received a complimentary copy of the book. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scriptural Connection

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country.

Heb. 11:8

This verse is specifically referenced at the end of the book and I really like that this is a theme verse, since it so clearly (and specifically) applies to the challenges of moving.

In a more general sense, the book is about trusting God, and includes discussion of serving others vs. working only for a reward (Jack is only too eager to help his neighbor… for a fee).

Family Dynamics

Although Jack, Midge and their parents are moving out at the start of the book, I really liked seeing the extended-family living situation. Prior to the move, Jack, along with his parents and his sister have lived with Jack’s grandparents all of Jack’s lives. I really liked seeing Jack’s close relationship with his grandparents, which was one of his key motivations for wanting to return.

Overall, Jack treats his parents/grandparents with respect. While he isn’t always the kindest brother (nor is Midge the sweetest sister), the siblings are on amicable terms and even share the same friend-group.

Characters

Eastep introduces a fun and likable cast of characters, including a hen (Henrietta), a whiz-kid sister (Midge), an avid bookworm (Ellison), an eye-patch sporting neighbor (Ruthie), and a radio-toting Roger.

Jack’s parents and grandparents are shown to be kind, hardworking and compassionate.

Setting

The novel is set in the 1990s, which I recently heard referenced as a “historical” period. That’s a weird thought. Jack is a little bit older than me (I was a mid-90s baby), so I didn’t “get” all the nostalgia. But it was a fun read!

What I Liked

This book definitely stands-out, in terms of educational value! Interspersed throughout are little note card graphics, including science (Midge’s Phenomenal Facts), literature (“Ellison’s Bookmarks”) and history (“Rogers’s Riveting History”), based on some of the secondary characters’ interests. Naturally, I enjoyed the bookmarks. But I also had fun learning about bugs from Midge. She’s a smart one!

As I saw others mentioning in their review, Eastep achieves a well-crafted voice, conveying the believable perspective of a ten-year-old boy. Her writing is both humorous and engaging. It’s also relatable!

During one scene in particular, I felt the description was especially apt, bringing to mind my own experiences with childhood friends.

I also thought the premise of the Tree Street Kids, as a club, was clever. Tree streets are pretty much everywhere in the US, so I think this is delightfully relatable. Perhaps readers can begin “Tree Street” clubs of their own!

Content

The word “Geez” appears at least once in the story.

Recommendation

This is a sweet little book with a clear message about trusting in God. I would definitely recommend it, in particular, to children who are dealing with a move.

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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