cover image Singing Down the Rain

Singing Down the Rain

Joy Cowley, Joy Crowley, Joy Coley. HarperCollins, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027602-7

Cowley's (Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey) narrative voice and Gilchrist's (Madelia, above) sun-touched faces are the high points of this picture book about the power of community and faith. A blue pickup truck enters young Brianna's town during a heat spell that has ""gone on so long/ that good and kind neighbors/ were getting real scritchy with each other."" Out jumps ""a fine small woman/ with bangles on her arms,/ painted parrots in her ears,/ and a smile so big,/ it used most of her face."" The woman announces that she ""felt a praying and a needing"" as she rode past and that she ""specializes in rainsongs."" At first, everyone laughs when she asks them to join her in singing and dancing--""Oo-sha-la! Bo-ba-lo-lee!"" Then one by one, led by the children, the entire town begins ""dancing wet to the skin, face up,/ drinking all that mighty good rain"" and only Brianna notices the mysterious woman driving off. Gilchrist's country scenes and characters can be a bit static and inconsistent, but at times her multiracial cast of children lights up the page with their rapt expressions. Cowley's chanting narrative fairly sings, and by packing her storytelling with homespun images and repetitive phrases, she makes her fanciful tale almost believable. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)