This last week, I chose to read Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. In this story, award-winning author Hesse and artist Jon J. Muth deftly capture the magic of a sudden rainstorm on a swelteringly hot day in the city. Much more than about weather, Come On, Rain! also portrays quality mother-daughter relations, urban society, and the spiritual nature of the world around them. The culture portrayed in the book is African American, but also city-life. Both of these are cultures I am quite unfamiliar with.
The story follows Tess, a young black girl of the urban city who has to deal with a swealtering heat of the season. Hesse makes you feel the heat in her descriptions of drooping plants and panting cats. Everyone is affected by the amount of the sun. Tess hopes for rain. When it finally comes, she and her mama celebrate outside, dancing with other mamas and their daughters until the rain has passed.
Muth's sunbaked watercolors perfectly convey the washed-out, drought-stricken world, while Hesse's gripping narrative keeps children and adults alike entertained and involved. No offence to the writing and story, I greatly enjoyed it. However I feel as though the illustrations made this book stand out. Tess is perfectly pictured as bird-like from the very beginning. Her momma, however, never shows her face. I am not sure if that means anything, I just noticed it. His background water colors make the paintings go from hot and smoggy to rainy and cool. Tess has multiple friends from multiple races which don’t necessarily play a part to the story, but is accurate in a city environment. However, when the hands and feet are pictured by themselves, their race is pretty much unknown because of the colors he chose to use. It is because it does not matter; red, yellow, black, white, purple, everyone is affected by the heat and welcome the rain together. Everyone can enjoy the weather together. I also love how the mother-daughter relationship is shown side-by-side with a white mother-daughter in the pictures to show that there is no difference.
All around, this book was excellent. It has a black lead female but it does not make it all about race. It could have easily been a Portuguese child in my opinion and still have been a good book. I would love to share this with my kid one day.