Rain Player


The ancient Mayan belief that the future was divinely decreed and could not be changed is the basis for this original tale of a boy who must defeat the Rain God in a ball game to save his people from disaster. Mayan art and architecture were the inspiration for the spectacular cut-paper artwork.

To bring rain to his thirsty village, Pik challenges the rain god to a game of pok-a-tok.

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The ancient Mayan belief that the future was divinely decreed and could not be changed is the basis for this original tale of a boy who must defeat the Rain God in a ball game to save his people from disaster. Mayan art and architecture were the inspiration for the spectacular cut-paper artwork.

To bring rain to his thirsty village, Pik challenges the rain god to a game of pok-a-tok.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A unique artist again creates a substantial original tale based on folkloric traditions, meticulously explained in an extensive note. . . . A strong adventure that will appeal to a broad age range." Kirkus Reviews

"An unusual story of a young Mayan ballplayer who, defying the priest's prophecy of a drought to come in the year ahead, challenges the rain god (Chac) to a game of pok-a-tok. . . . The great beauty of the volume and its lessons on Mayan culture make it a unique and worthwhile purchase." School Library Journal

"The visual excitement of these pictures gives the book immediate and lasting appeal." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wisniewski's Elfwyn's Saga latest, inspired by ancient Mayan culture, takes full advantage of his penchant for original folktales rooted firmly in well-researched fact. This interest, together with his instantly recognizable cut-paper artwork vibrantly colored, its dramatic lighting and photography result in sharply three-dimensional images, have helped him carve a niche in the picture book realm. Here, a boy named Pik challenges Chac, the god of rain, to a game of ``pok-a-tok''--a cross between soccer and basketball--in order to avert a foretold drought that would devastate his people. Pik's father gives him three talismans to help in the play-off against the fierce sky god, and with their aid the boy is victorious. It's a satisfying tale, and Pik--a sort of Magic Johnson of the Yucatan--is the kind of impetuous hero with whom young readers will enjoy identifying. Ages 5-9. Sept.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
A year of drought looms ahead for the citizens of this ancient Mayan city. Pik, a ballplayer, rashly boasts that if he were the high priest, he would tell the rain god Chac to get to work. Chac overhears and a challenge is issued. If Pik wins the ball game then the rains will come, if he loses he'll become a frog. Aided by other animals, Pik wins and becomes a champion called the Rain Player. A well researched tale, set in a little known culture, and illustrated with intricate, layered cut paper images. The art fills every spread and has a three dimensional quality that encourages close examination.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4Three of the most charming picture books to come along in recent years have been made available in book-on-tape format. All are of superior quality with strong narration. In Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell, the numbers one through ten are used to illustrate the story of a cheerful, extended family as they shop for and cook their dinner. Rain Player by David Wisniewski, the dramatic tale of Pik, who challenges the rain god to a game of pok-a-tok to save his drought-ridden village, comes to life with wonderfully intense narration. The best of the three new releases in this series is Tap Tap by Karen Lynn Williams, the story about a young Haitian girl who accompanies her mother to the market to sell oranges. They have to walk because Sasifi's mother can't afford to pay for them to ride the tap-tap bus, so named because passengers tap on the side of the bus to tell the driver to stop. Circumstances finally allow them to ride the bus home. The narration by Margarita Taylor is superlative, with her rich, vibrant voice making you feel as if you are actually in Haiti. Backed by cheerful Caribbean music, her voice sweeps listeners into the story. A page-turn signal tells readers when to turn the pages. This is carefully explained at the beginning of each tape, along with a description of the first page of text, so children know where to begin the book. Any or all of these would be welcome additions to any library, but Tap-Tap is easily the best of the three.-Melissa Hudak, Roscoe Branch Library, Loves Park, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395720837
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/1995
  • Edition description: None
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 300,302
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: AD530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.76 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 0.12 (d)

Meet the Author

David Wisniewski (wiz-NESS-key) was born in Middlesex, England, in 1953. After training at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, he spent three years as a clown, designing and constructing his own props, costumes, and gags. He was subsequently hired by his future wife, Donna, as a performer with a traveling puppet theatre. Married six months later, the Wisniewskis started their own troupe, Clarion Shadow Theatre, specializing in shadow puppetry. In the course of creating the plays, puppets, and projected scenery, Mr. Wisniewski evolved the storytelling techniques and art skills that eventually led to his picture books with their unique cut-paper illustrations. His retelling of GOLEM was awarded the 1997 Caldecott Medal. David Wisniewski died in 2002 in the Maryland home he shared with his wife and two children.
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