Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy

Tara Dairman, illus. by Archana Sreenivasan. Putnam, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-51806-8

Beginning with “White sand./ Green field,” side-by-side spreads and horizontally split pages compare the lives of two children in northwest India—one from Gujarat, one from Rajasthan. Traditionally pastoralists, an author’s note explains, the Rabari people are moving away from nomadic life, a change that “brings many changes.” A girl lives amid desert tents, gathering wood and water, while a boy lives in a lowland village and attends school. Short rhyming lines by Dairman (The Great Hibernation) reveal what happens to each group when the weather turns nasty: on top of a split page, there’s a sandstorm (“Sand blows in”), on the bottom, a monsoon (“flooding floor”). The girl takes cover in the family’s tent—“Tie the flap!”—while the boy ducks into his rapidly flooding house: “Seal the door!” When conditions grow unbearable, both groups trek to higher, greener ground—and there, their families meet. Digitally painted spreads by Sreenivasan (Diwali) feature angular graphic forms and jewel-toned hues. The colors intensify as the weather worsens: the light from the desert sandstorm turns everything orange, and the blues and greens of monsoon country deepen. While introducing the diversity of the Indian subcontinent through thoughtful juxtaposition, this collaboration also confronts the threats that extreme weather poses to various ways of life. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, Red Fox Literary. (May) [/em]