May 26, 2009

Bringing the Rain

It's one of those humid, heavy days with low clouds that promise a cooling rain but never deliver. In a random act of kindness, our neighbor mowed our front yard for us yesterday, cutting it short and revealing all of the dead growth underneath. I'm afraid if these clouds don't break open soon, the grass is going to die. Why am I telling you this? Because I assume you find the mundane details of our lawn care fascinating, of course. Oh, you don't? Well, you may be more interested in Ki-Pat's.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain is my pick for the day. It's the tale of Ki-Pat, an African herdsman who ends the drought in his land with the help of a magic eagle feather. The story is told in verse as a cumulative tale, with each new segment added to the repeated poem. (Think The House that Jack Built.) It's a simple poem but wonderfully written and fun to read. (My favorite line is "A shot from the bow,/so long and strong,/and strung with a string,/a leather thong".) The repetition and rhyme is great for early literacy. I have Little Page fill in the last word in each stanza as we move through the story, letting her be a part of the telling.

Bringing the Rain a favorite of Little Page and was a favorite of mine at her age. The author, Verna Aardema, lived in my home town and I had the privelege of hearing her read the story aloud at a local library. The tale itself comes from Kenya and was documented in an anthropologist's book in 1909. And, of course, as with most books I highlight on this blog, the illustrations are beautiful.

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