cover image Big Rain Coming

Big Rain Coming

Katrina Germein. Clarion Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-08344-2

This well-crafted picture book from an Australian team brings the dry and dusty reaches of the outback straight to American readers. On Sunday, Old Stephen, a white-bearded Aborigine, predicts rain, but it takes all week to arrive. With each day that passes, anticipation builds like the dark clouds on the horizon and everyone struggles to keep cool. On Monday, ""The night was so warm Rosie's kids dragged their beds outside to maybe feel some breeze while they slept""; on Tuesday, dogs dig holes for shelter from the heat; and so on. Finally, on Saturday, it happens--""wonderful cool wet RAIN."" A minimum of text per spread emulates the patient waiting of the people and animals in Bancroft's intricately patterned illustrations. She represents the earth with stylized swirls of brown and black and creates the billabong from a patchwork of limpid purples and greens. People appear as black silhouettes clothed in bright polka dots and stripes; lizards scamper across the foreground, and in the sky, the sun is an ever-changing orb of concentric circles and dots. Through it all runs the unifying motif of the Rainbow Serpent, an aboriginal symbol of creation closely associated with water and life, flowing in a ribbon of abstract design across the bottom of nearly every page. This evocative picture book saturates the senses as surely as rain does the parched earth. Ages 4-8. (July)