Matt Phelan‘s The Storm in the Barn is a beautiful, moving, and singular graphic novel, the story of eleven-year-old Jack Clark, his family, and his town during the 1937 Dust Bowl in Kansas. Phelan’s palatte, sparse text, lines, and dusty images evoke the time and place perfectly. It is a tricky thing to tell a tale that is both ultra-realistic and tinged with the supernatural, one that is both fable and historic. Go too far in one direction and the story becomes overly moralizing; go too far the other and it just falls flat. Phelan straddles the line perfectly. The atmosphere is thick with dust, with sadness, with pain, with wonder and, finally with hope. Jack is a moving protagonist, worried about real things, inquisitive, scared, and ultimately brave. This is an Americana story — the images harken back to the iconic photographs of Dorothea Lange, there are references to that very American literary fairy tale, L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. Keep an eye out for it this fall — it is a wonder.