cover image Rain Player

Rain Player

David Wisniewski. Clarion Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-55112-7

Wisniewski's ( Elfwyn's Saga ) latest, inspired by ancient Mayan culture, takes full advantage of his penchant for original folktales rooted firmly in well-researched fact. This interest, together with his instantly recognizable cut-paper artwork (vibrantly colored, its dramatic lighting and photography result in sharply three-dimensional images), have helped him carve a niche in the picture book realm. Here, a boy named Pik challenges Chac, the god of rain, to a game of ``pok-a-tok''--a cross between soccer and basketball--in order to avert a foretold drought that would devastate his people. Pik's father gives him three talismans to help in the play-off against the fierce sky god, and with their aid the boy is victorious. It's a satisfying tale, and Pik--a sort of Magic Johnson of the Yucatan--is the kind of impetuous hero with whom young readers will enjoy identifying. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)