cover image Come On, Rain

Come On, Rain

Karen Hesse, Jon J. Muth. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-33125-8

""Up and down the block,/ cats pant,/ heat wavers off tar patches in the broiling alleyway./ Miz Grace and Miz Vera bend, tending beds of drooping lupines,"" as a whole neighborhood waits for rain. The narrator, Tessie, is the first one to see the ""clouds rolling in,/ gray clouds, bunched and bulging under a purple sky,"" and she engineers a joyful rain dance with her three friends, Jackie-Joyce, Liz and Rosemary. The long-sought rain ""freckles our feet, glazes our toes./ We turn in circles,/ glistening in our rain skin."" According to Hesse's bio on the jacket flap, this text contains her initial exploration of motifs used first in her Newbery Medal-winning novel, Out of the Dust. With poetic and immediate language, she again captures the cleansing experience of rainfall after a long dry spell. In an auspicious debut, Muth's illustrations showcase an impressive range of perspectives, from the opening urban skyline to the subtle indication of the oncoming storm in the ruffling of a curtain to the girls' view looking up at their mothers from where they're dancing in the street. His inventive design sense and use of watercolors--smudges of shadow, glistening sidewalks and foggy city-scapes--are remarkable. This is an impressive tribute to those experiences that leave us ""purely soothed,/ fresh as dew,/ turning toward the first sweet rays of the sun."" Ages 4-8. (Mar.)