cover image THIS IS THE RAIN


Lola M. Schaefer, , illus. by Jane Wattenberg. . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-17039-4

Using the same approach as with her This Is the Sunflower, Schaefer celebrates the earth's waters. "This is the ocean/ blue and vast,/ that holds the rainwater from the past." The accompanying illustration depicts a night sky filled with starfish above a turquoise expanse of ocean. While keeping the vocabulary simple, the author conjures up vivid images of how water continually replenishes the planet by falling, flowing and vaporizing. Water makes "puddles,/ big and round,/ that dot the land, muddy wet ground"; it forms "clouds low and gray,/ full of vapor, moist and light." Wattenberg's full-bleed photo collages, used so effectively in her Henny Penny, here depict stunning natural images: a single sunflower stands sentry-like in a vast, gold-splashed meadow; a school of emerald fish seem to be airborne at the base of a waterfall; a gray cloud oozes over a seashore. And there's a soupcon of sly jokes as well—Wattenberg has a fondness for sneaking dinosaurs into her ocean scenes, and the final montage sports umbrella-toting birds and seahorses. Her layer upon layer of photo images creates a giddy visual landscape that is simultaneously ironic and iconic. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)