Come On, Rain! / Karen Hesse

In this quietly affecting story, award-winning author Karen Hesse and artist Jon J. Muth deftly capture the magnificence of a sudden rainstorm on a swelteringly hot day. Much more than a simple tale of weather, Come On, Rain! also portrays the tenderness of mother-daughter relations, the rhythms of urban society, and the power of nature to transform and reinvigorate all forms of life.

The book's collaborators, more like alchemists, work wonders. Muth's sunbaked watercolors perfectly convey the washed-out, drought-stricken world, while Hesse's gripping narrative--a detailed prose poem written in the voice of the watchful, pigtailed Tessie--conveys undaunted hope and anticipation. Like a long-limbed little bird--all twiggy arms and legs--Tessie moves through the neighborhood, observing her Mamma, her friends, the skies, even the streets:

Up and down the block,
cats pant,
heat wavers off tar patches in the broiling alleyway....

I stare out over rooftops,
past chimneys, into the way off distance.
And that's when I see it coming,
clouds rolling in,
gray clouds, bunched and bulging under a purple sky.

A creeper of hope circles round my bones.
"Come on, rain!" I whisper.

As the downpour approaches, Tessie gathers her neighborhood friends for a romp in the raindrops. Their eager anticipation is matched by a rain shower so gigantic, it even makes their mothers run into the street. It's literally the stuff that dreams are made of--my own daughter dreamed of the delicious downpour the night we first read the book. (Click to see a sample spread. Text ©1999 by Karen Hesse. Illustrations ©1999 by Jon J. Muth. Reproduced with permission of Scholastic, Inc.) (Ages 5 and older) --Jean Lenihan
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