The drama of seasonal change quickens a girl's first-person account of the first summer rain in the Southwestern desert. The narrator's elation at the storm expands in Tracy's satisfying visual studies of the responses of animals, people and sun-scorched landscape. Startling if occasionally forced perspectives evoke the grandeur of the storm and its power to renew life in seemingly barren surroundings. In one charming sequence, toddlers romp in the downpour until ``they look like mud babies born from the earth herself.'' The furious rain dwindles to a rainbow, then cedes to a fiery, quiescent sunset. There is, however, a ragged quality about the book. Small motifs amplifying the narrative and appearing opposite full-page illustrations seem superfluous, and the text sometimes distracts by pulling readers into a perception of rhythm only to push them into prose. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-In free-verse text that builds to a crescendo and then diminishes to the calm of a clean summer night, the Buchanans describe the coming of a welcomed storm to the Southwestern desert. Tracy's watercolor paintings fill one side of each double-page spread, and a tiny painting placed next to the text on each opposing page provides balance while highlighting a plant, a creature, or an aspect of the scene. The paintings feature dark values washed with vivid color and bright flashes of light from sun, lightning, moon, or stars. The overall effect is one of warmth and delight in the rejuvenating power the rains bring. Readers might compare the images evoked here with those in books by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall, such as Desert Voices (Scribners, 1981). It might also be used to contrast with Mary Stolz and Pat Cummings's Storm in the Night (HarperCollins, 1988). A quiet but effective regional slice of life.-Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
ger for reading aloud. Using free verse and evocative watercolor paintings, this book describes the sights and sounds of the desert when rain finally arrives. The low, distant rumblings--"Is that lightning's voice?"--mark the first sign of the coming rain that will follow days of scorching sun. Residents, animal as well as human, come out to watch how the rain is bringing the desert alive. When the storm is finally over, a rainbow breaks through the clouds, and that night, "we each breathe deeply / of the rich desert scents / that ride on the wings of the damp, gentle wind." The magic of nature becomes tangled with everyday life in both words and art in a book that is handsomely designed. Tracy provides shimmering watercolors and is equally at home drawing people, animals, and desert landscapes. A practical choice to bolster desert curricula, but most notable for its sheer exuberance.