cover image What Does the Rain Play?

What Does the Rain Play?

Nancy White Carlstrom. MacMillan Publishing Company, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-717273-7

``When the sky is heavy as lead / and the whole world turns over, gray,'' Jon listens to the rain. Carlstrom (the Jesse Bear books) concludes each section of this quiet poem with the eponymous query and a fitting combination of sounds made by the rain and the activities in which Jon is engaged. ``Rat-a-tat! Rat-a-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat-tat!'' or ``Clink clink gurgle drip!'' sings the rain as it accompanies Jon throughout the day. He hears ``Tap tap trickle slide'' when he is at school and ``Ping in the singing pan!'' as he cuddles in bed with his cat. Sorensen's lavish, painterly illustrations suggest the work of Norman Rockwell (in subject matter) and Ted Rand (in their depictions of nature). In both indoor and outdoor scenes, the artwork glows with soft light and shadow: the reflective boy and his pet are bathed in striking, textured sunset-orange hues; beside a flower-dotted pasture, silvery puddles mirror a lowering sky. Though the text occasionally seems to strain for onomatopoetic effect, this minor shortcoming does not detract from the tranquility and relaxed playfulness of a felicitous collaboration. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)