Rain. Here in the Pacific Northwest, rain is an ever-constant feature of our lives. In the dry times (pretty much only a couple of months in the summer), the rain might not come as frequently, but it's not far from our thoughts. And in the spring - hooo boy, watch out.
Sprout came into our family in May 2010, and the one feature I remember about his homecoming is that it was a beautiful sunny week. Kind of unusual that time of year around these parts, and even in my sleep-deprived fog I noticed that. But then, in predictable Washington fashion, the rain came.
And boy oh boy did Sprout love it. He would tip his head back, turn his face up into the rain and laugh. It was really something to see. Suddenly we weren't rushing to the car to get him secured in the carseat, but dawdling so he could throw his chubby arms up into the gray air and let the raindrops pound down on his open palms. It was pure joyful delight.
Which is exactly what we find in The Rain Stomper by Addie Boswell, only not right from the outset. In the book Jazmin is so excited to be twirling her baton in the big parade in her neighborhood. She can hardly wait to start, jumping out of bed on the big day and rushing to the door. But what she sees fills Jazmin with dread. Because it's raining, pouring, gushing down buckets and buckets. Ruined, right? Jazmin's mad, and she steps out onto the stoop to express her disapproval to the skies. And as Jazmin stomps and splashes, something astonishing happens - her neighbors begin to venture out of their homes, and call to Jazmin to stomp and splash even more. Suddenly, the parade is there, without Jazmin even noticing it, and Jazmin not only has channeled her anger into making lots of kids happy, she's also "outstomped the rain".
Sprout loves this book not only for its lively illustrations by Eric Velasquez - Jazmin is so vivid that she steals the reader's attention in every single scene -- but also for its crazy onomatopoeic vibe. The rain is a character here, one that slaps and clatters and bashes on every spread. You can feel the drenching closeness of this wet day, and channel Jazmin's disappointment turning into rage at the weather ruining her plans. And you can sense the children's delight in watching Jazmin's rain-soaked antics, as she spins and jumps and twirls her braids and her baton. There's so much energy here, he almost can't sit still as we read it.
And with this energetic text and dynamic artwork, who can blame him?
The Rain Stomper by Addie Boswell, published by Marshall Cavendish
Sample: "Jazmin threw open her front door. Wind whistled through her hair. Thunder rumbled the ground. The sun scuttled behind the clouds. The sky twisted into a thick, black coil."