Crown Publishing Group: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

Noah Builds an Ark

"Noah spied it coming from afar. It started with a cloud peeping over the hill like a curious ghost." There's a storm brewing, and city child Noah responds like an old farmhand. While his father boards up the windows on their home, Noah bangs together an "ark" scaled for mice, salamanders and other outdoor critters. While his mother and sister stockpile provisions, Noah gathers berries and seeds for the creatures. And while his mom rounds up candles, Noah mounts a flashlight inside the ark. Following these parallel preparations, Kate Banks (How to Find an Elephant; The Magician's Apprentice) supplies the signature choreography from the Bible story that underpins Noah Builds an Ark: when the boy, who has just been summoned by his mom, calls the backyard denizens to the ark, they arrive in pairs. When the storm is over four days later, the animals exit the ark "two by two."

When the storm is in full swing, the paralleling continues, abetted by side-by-side illustrations from John Rocco, who does for rain in Noah Builds an Ark what he did for snow in the shiver-inducing Blizzard. While Noah and his family eat and play games by candlelight, the animals nosh and romp inside the ark. While Noah's dad tells stories to his kids, "each little creature [makes] a noise of its own."

Readers needn't be familiar with the Bible story to appreciate Noah Builds an Ark. They needn't even be animal lovers: they require only an appreciation for inspired tales of empathy and ingenuity. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author