Saturday, July 17, 2021

Book Review: Stormwatcher by Maria V. Snyder

Storm Watcher

Maria V. Snyder
Publication: Leap Books (October 2013)

Description: Luke Riley is lost. His mother's recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three Bloodhounds are search and rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again. The summer after sixth grade looms in Luke's mind as a long, lonely three months where the only thing he can look forward to is watching The Weather Channel. Luke is fascinated with the weather, but since his mother's death in a storm, he is also terrified. Even the promised 13th birthday present of a Bloodhound puppy fails to lift Luke's spirits. He would rather have a different breed - a petite Papillon, but his father insists he get a Bloodhound.

When Luke decides to get the Bloodhound from Willajean, a dog breeder who owns Storm Watcher Kennel, he works out a deal to help at her kennel in exchange for the expensive dog. Thrilled to have a summer with a purpose, Luke befriends Willajean's daughter, Megan and together they plan how Luke can get a Papillon puppy instead of a Bloodhound. But nothing seems to work as they struggle with stubborn fathers, summer storms, unhelpful siblings, and hidden guilt. Can one little white dog really save both families?

My Thoughts: This story begins when Luke Riley is almost thirteen. He's a few days away from his thirteenth birthday. His mother has recently died when her car was struck by lightning and she lost control of it and ran into a tree. 

Luke's dad and his older twin brothers are all dealing with their loss differently. His brothers are constantly picking on him and his dad spends all his time doing his work as an electrician or working Search and Rescue with his bloodhound. Luke's brothers also have bloodhounds and are training them for search and rescue too. His dad wants to have him a bloodhound for his birthday, but Luke wants to have a papillon instead. He's seen them tracking too. 

Luke's dad has arranged for him to work at a local kennel which breeds both bloodhounds and papillons so that he can afford the puppy. His dad thinks he's getting a bloodhound but Luke is determined to get a papillon instead. He gets to know Megan at the kennel. She is the same age as he is and is also a dog lover. She's determined to train her German shepherd as a search and rescue dog. 

Luke has a weather phobia and an obsession with the Weather Channel. He has always been afraid of storms and his mother's death has only cemented his fears. His dad lets him call in sick if the weather is stormy but believes Luke will outgrow his phobia. Luckily, his middle school guidance counselor refers him to the high school guidance counselor who helps him deal his phobia and his grief and guilt at the loss of his mother. 

Things come to a head when Megan goes missing during a storm and his papillon named Lightning is able to track her down when his father and his dog are searching in the wrong direction. 

This was a great story about dealing with loss. It had all sorts of interesting facts both about the weather and about dog training. 

Favorite Quote:
"Dogs see the world through their noses," Megan had explained. "They have one million scent receptors per nostril. And did you know, people shed about forty thousand dead skin cells per minute? That's so gross, but that's what Lance is smelling - those skin cells when they're blown downwind from the person."
I bought this one on February 25, 2014. It is currently out of print.

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