The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library

Thunder Cake and Other Wise Tales by Patricia Polacco

Posted about 1 year ago by Patti L

Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

In Thunder Cake, a thunderstorm is coming and a little girl is hiding under the bed in Grandma’s farm house. Grandma tells her to come out so they can make a thunder cake before the storm hits. She tells the child to count the seconds between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder so they will know how much time they have to get the cake in the oven; it will not be a “real” thunder cake unless it’s baking when the storm arrives.

Grandma then keeps the child busy gathering ingredients and counting. The child must be brave getting eggs from the prickly hen, getting milk from the mean kicking cow and walking through the woods to get other supplies. All the while, the thunder is booming, the child is counting, and Grandma is with her at every step, encouraging her.

Polacco’s warm folk-art illustrations convey a sense of a long-ago time, with the grandma living on a farm and wearing a long print skirt and a babushka. This story is based on the author’s actual experiences living with her grandparents on a farm in Michigan, and Polacco’s fond memories of that time. My own memories of being with my grandma and the warmth and safety I felt with her flowed through me as I read Thunder Cake. It is a delightful story to share with your child!

Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco is but one of the wonderful books on the 101 Picture Book Challenge.

Following are more Patricia Polacco books. And if you're looking for all of Polacco's books, you'll find them in Library catalog.

More Amazing Books by Patrica Polacco

Mr. Wayne's Masterpiece by Patricia Polacco

Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece

Because she is afraid to read an essay aloud in English class, young Patricia is invited to take Mr. Wayne's drama class where she paints sets, participates in fun exercises, and memorizes every part in the play the others are rehearsing.

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco

The Art of Miss Chew

Describes how a teacher named Miss Chew encouraged individuality, and accepted learning differences, and helped a young student with academic difficulties get extra time to take tests and permission to be in advanced art classes. Inspired by the author's memories of her art teacher.

January's Sparrow by Patricia Polacco

January’s Sparrow

After a fellow slave is beaten to death, Sadie and her family flee the plantation for freedom through the Underground Railroad.

The Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco

The Blessing Cup

A single china cup from a tea set left behind when Jews were forced to leave Russia helps hold a family together through generations of living in America, reminding them of the most important things in life.

Mommies Say Shhh! by Patricia Polacco

Mommies Say Shhh!

Animals make many different noises, but when they make too much noise, their mommies quiet them down.

Bully by Patricia Polacco


Sixth-grade friends Lyla and Jamie, both new to their school, stand up for each other when a clique of popular girls bullies them online.

The Lemonade Club by Patricia Polacco

The Lemonade Club

When Marilyn and her teacher, Miss Wichelman, both get cancer, they encourage each other and, aided by medical treatments and support from friends, they get better. Based on a true story.

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco

Chicken Sunday

To thank old Eula for her wonderful Sunday chicken dinners, the children sell decorated eggs and buy her a beautiful Easter hat.

Holes in the Sky by Patricia Polacco

Holes in the Sky

Soon after her beloved grandmother's death, Trisha's family moves to a diverse California neighborhood where she meets Stewart and his grandmother, Miss Eula, who brings people together to help a grieving neighbor.

What is the 101 Picture Book Challenge?

101 Picture Book Challenge - Toledo Lucas County Public Library

The 101 Picture Book Challenge is for anyone at any age. Librarians hand picked the titles on the list which includes classics, new titles and everything in between.

To get started, register online. You can track your progress online or if you prefer a paper log booklet, pick one up at your neighborhood Library. The books are organized into categories but you can read the books in any order and at your own pace. When you read all 101 titles, you earn a free picture book (while supplies last).

This is the latest in a series of blog posts exploring some of the things we love about these books.