Downloadable Literature Guides

"Do you believe in the power of the Rain?"

The Storm in the Barn
A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

Language Alert! This book contains swearing.

A young, happy farm family. Beautiful farm land. Bountiful crops.
Then, the rain is gone. Winds blow, picking up the topsoil, sending it high into the air. The first horrendous dust storm. Followed by more and more. The Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

In the middle of the disaster, a farm boy lives the nightmare on his family farm. What could cause such devastation? Stories begin to grow. Wild stories to help explain the unthinkable.

Matt Phelan's graphic novel--The Storm in the Barn --brings one of the tall tales to life. Using few words, and told through the eyes of 11-year-old Jack Clark, the story becomes a frightening one, especially knowing that much of the story is historical fact that has been woven into a gripping tale of thrilling fantasy. When he comes face to face with the Storm in the barn, he must find the courage to conquer the half-human form to try to save the land and their family. Weaving in the literature emerging of a tornado disaster in The Wizard of Oz and the Jack stories, Phelan accomplishes an amazing feat with his drawings that capture the emotion and melancholy of the period.

The Kids' Wings literature guide invites group discussion, prediction, drama, problem-solving, and skill building. Teachers who want students to interest their students in the events of the Dust Bowl through historical fiction will want make this intermediate-level graphic novel part of their classroom libraries.

Research Links for The Storm in the Barn
A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

About the Dust Bowl
Moods in Stories (Right click to download and save)

Step-by-Step How to Draw Expression with Eyes

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Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen--top-notch Revolutionary War story
SPY! by Anna Myers--terrific biography of Nathan Hale
Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf
More Award-winning History and Historical Fiction with Kids Wings activity guides

Related Literature, Fantasy/Adventure

The Shadows by Jacqueline West
Happenstance Found
by by P. W. Catanese
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
The Cabinet of Wonders by by Marie Rutkoski

The Kids Wings Guide for The Storm in the Barn

A 11-page unit perfect for lesson planning, handouts, or projection on your SmartBoard for The Storm in the Barn is now available as part of Extraordinary Destinations, Kids Wings 17th annual collection of award-winning units.

The Activity Guide Contains:
Pre-Reading Discussion Cards
Anticipation Guide
Readers’ Theater Introduction of The Dust Bowl
Getting Ready to Read Embedded Nonfiction: The Dust Bowl
Map Study: Where in the World Was the Dust Bowl
Crossword Puzzle: A Boy's Courage

Understanding Visual Eye-Clues
Draw the Monster
Researching Other National Disasters
"I Am An American"
Writing Your Own "I Am An American"

Answer Keys


Special Offer!
The Storm in the Barn is one of the 26 literature guides for award-winning literature in our Extraordinary Destinations Collection. Though you can order each unit individually for about $12.95, if you order Extraordinary Destinations you will get the 26 units for less than $1.00 each in a spiral-bound book with CD in its back pocket! Order now while we still have them to send to you!


A special thanks to Jiji M. John for allowing us to use his original composition, "Goosebumps" as our background music, Visit his website at


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Disclaimer: The links here have been scrutinized for their grade and age appropriateness; however, contents of links on the World Wide Web change continuously. It is advisable that teachers and parents review all links before allowing student use. Please contact us immediately if you find any inappropriate links.


SMDisclaimer: Texas Bluebonnet AwardSM is a service mark of the Texas Library Association, which is in no way affiliated with Kids' Wings or Suzy Red. Use of the Texas Bluebonnet Award mark in these materials does not imply any endorsement of any kind on behalf of the Texas Library Association. The Texas Bluebonnet Book Master ListSM was selected by the Texas Bluebonnet Award Committee of the Texas Library Association


© 2011, Suzy Red, Lockhart, Texas
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