Lila, her family, their animals are all too hot. Their Kenyan village has not had rain for far too long. The well has dried up, and the crops are failing. “‘Without water there can be no life,’” Lila overhears her mother’s worry. Then her grandfather shares his rainy-day secret: “”You must climb the highest mountain,’” a man once told her grandfather when he was a young boy, “‘and tell the sky the saddest thing you know.’”
Up she clambers to the highest peak the next morning, to tell the sky about her brother’s cut leg, her burnt fingers, and all the other “saddest things she knew.” But still no rain. Her desperate concern for her family, their animals, the crops, makes her sob: “‘Without crops there will be no food, without food the people in the village will become sick, and without water there can be no life.’” As Lila weeps, darkening clouds gather, “until the sky was ebony with emotion.” Lightning, thunder … and by the time she reaches home, “all the villagers were celebrating the rain with music and dancing.”
Award-winning British children’s author David Conway‘s unembellished text introduces a serious subject with just enough gravitas for younger readers. But what lingers most are Jude Daly‘s illustrations: her elegant, elongated figures populating minimal landscapes create beautiful tableaus on every page, threatened by the golden sun which looms closer and closer into Lila’s parched world.
Even in DC, we’ve had such a stretch of unseasonably hot weather (what happened to winter? did we miss spring?), that a rainy weekend just seems out-of-place. Lila provides a perfect antidote for kiddie cabin fever … not to mention a good excuse to crank up the tunes and go dance in the rain!
Published: 2008 (United States)