cover image The Day of the Rainbow

The Day of the Rainbow

Niki Daly, Ruth Craft. Viking Children's Books, $12.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-670-82456-4

A girl named Nerinder, a boy named Leroy and a woman, Mrs. Poppodopolous, all lose a precious item in the bustle of city streets on a hot summer day. Then the rain cools down the streets, and a rainbow forms, seeming to light on those three lost objects. When the items are found, order is restored and the city becomes a friendly place. Craft revels in the cacophony of the urban setting, giving her verse a halting beat that is full of stops and starts and surprising leaps. Daly takes the cantankerous text and brings a visible, pressing tension to the pictures in his sweeps of watercolor: the people are grim-faced and the word ``Freedom'' adorns a man's T-shirt. The atmosphere, in the opening pages, is downright surlythe city is an angry place that indifferently swallows up treasures; but by the story's end, the tangible pot of gold for each character reveals the city's very human face. If outwardly, the book's aims (and title) seem obvious, the core of the piece is a distilled and affecting definition of city dwelling. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)