We don’t regularly review children’s books, but maybe we should. Many people’s love of the outdoors can be traced back to youthful reading experiences. It was certainly so with me: “Happy Jack” the gray squirrel and “Lightfoot” the white-tailed deer from the “Old Mother West Wind” stories by Thornton W. Burgess are with me yet.
“Hip, Hip, Hooray, It’s Monsoon Day!” by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford entertains young readers while giving them relevant information about their outdoor surroundings. Written in both English and Spanish, and charmingly illustrated in watercolors by Richard Johnsen, the book comes with a bilingual glossary.
Knowing my 11-year-old granddaughter’s interest in weather, I asked her to do a book report on what she learned. Here is what she said:
This book has great illustrations. Some of the words were unknown to me and it would have been nice to have the pronunciation spelled out. It has lots of detail about the start of the monsoon season, usually on or about San Juan’s Day (June 24). The characters are the grandfather, the boy, his little sister, his little brother and his mother. The grandfather tells stories about San Juan’s Day when people would dip their feet in the river for good luck and to make the rain come.
The explorer, Francisco Vasquez De Coronado, stood on the banks of a riverbed in the American Southwest on June 24 and asked for rain. The clouds opened and the rain began.
There is a good description of what a monsoon sounds and looks like. The air is full of debris. Trees bend and sway low to the ground. Clouds turn to black; the air smells like rain and wet dirt. The arroyos fill with runoff from the rain falling somewhere else. The characters see lightning and hear thunder, and they cover the mirrors inside the house with white sheets to keep lighting out of the house. The hail comes like white popcorn ice falling from the sky, then the electricity goes out. The rain comes down so hard the streets become rivers. The storm lasts for about one hour and happens just about every day at the same time in the same way. This is the weather forecast for the next two months.
The story mentions lots of animals like lizards, frogs, quail and jackrabbits. In the back of the book are descriptions of these animals and their names in Spanish. I liked that.
The story is in English and Spanish and is exciting and interesting. I learned that during a thunderstorm you should stay inside a house or a car with the windows up, and never stand near a tree. The story takes place in the desert, but it could be anywhere.
Published by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Press, this 41-page, large-format book is available from the publisher or at local and online bookstores.
–David E. Brown
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