cover image Downpour


Emily Martin, illus. by Mara Shaughnessy. Skyhorse/Sky Pony, $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62087-545-2

Martin debuts with a drifting, picture book–length poem that imagines the unusual aftereffects of a rainstorm: “It rained for days until poppies ran./ Their red first ran down stem and leaves./ Then, red, the roots,/ Red, the ground,/ Red, the stones sitting around.” In loose-lined ink illustrations against a watery gray backdrop, Shaughnessy (LEGO Man in Space) draws birds with beaks dipped in red, foxes dashing across a field on red paws, and a “sleepy black ram” whose curling horn is the same rich scarlet. All of the animals and humans, including a comely young woman with windswept locks that appears to be the narrator (“Red, the leaves that flutter around./ Red, the schoolbag on my back”), are drawn naturalistically. The sole exception is a recurring hedgehog character, whose cartoon rendering and whimsical actions (stomping around in rain boots, creating a chain of paper butterflies) are somewhat at odds with the contemplative tone of the verse. Still, there’s a certain thrill to be had from seeing red in unexpected contexts, whether on a mailbox, dirt road, or school bus. Ages 3–6. (June)