I am a huge fan of author/illustrator Patricia Polacco. Her book Thunder Cake helped us continue our discussion about how to be courageous and how to manage our fears.
The little girl in this story is very afraid of thunderstorms – hide under the bed afraid. Grandma soothes her explaining that summer storms full of thunder and lightning are made for baking Thunder Cake. The mention of ThunderCake gets some attention and Grandma is able to explain how to count seconds when you see lightning and stop counting when you hear the thunder to help figure out how far away the storm is.
My students loved counting along and then laughing when I read out Polacco’s different versions of thunder:
“CRACKLE, CRACKLE BOOOOM, KA-BOOOM”
It was all very exciting and almost like a storm was descending on us as we read through the pages.
This whole Thunder Cake idea seemed quite intriguing. I asked what magical ingredient it might contain that would take away fear? We had watched our little character collect eggs from the mean Peck-Hen and milk from Kick Cow and then chocolate, sugar and flour from the dry shed. What was going to be the magic fear dissolver? Well, maybe it was something else entirely going on? It didn’t take long for someone to talk out their thoughts on this:
“It is really just a normal cake but because she had to go get the ingredients from things that scared her (the hen and the cow) she started to realize that she is actually brave”
“Yeah,” someone else agreed. “She is trusting herself to be brave.”
“The ingredients aren’t special! It is making the cake that helps her realize that thunder is just a sound because she stops worrying about it. She wants to ice the cake!”
We had a great discussion about how once we don’t hide from our fears, we can face them and realize they don’t have power over us. Sometimes being brave isn’t doing some amazingly courageous act. Sometimes being brave is just being calm and thinking about something else.
An ideal book to let us look at something that is often very scary and remove the “fear” by watching our character have success in celebrating her ability to be brave. And saying KABOOOOOOOOM in a really loud booming voice sure is satisfying!