“Tap TAP, dark clouds. Tap TAP, damp air.” Better run for cover. There’s a storm coming, and author Elizabeth Bluemle brings it to us with style. Using short, rhyming sentences, we readers are right there in the burgeoning storm with a cast of characters about to get drenched.

It’s an otherwise beautiful spring day when the raindrops and thunder-booms arrive. People are out and about or relaxing on park benches. We first follow a young girl in a bright yellow dress, who looks with alarm at the coming rain. She and the other people in her community are driven to shelter. (“You’d better go down underground, where the water can’t getcha. You betcha.”)

A big group of friendly folk ends up in a subway shelter, sharing a delivery boy’s pizza, listening to musicians play and generally meeting and greeting. A tall lady with a poodle gives her umbrella to a boy; two friends huddle together to stay dry; and a burly construction worker holds a tiny umbrella. Up above the platform, a girl, dressed to the nines, is “late for dancing” and runs through the rain.

Illustrator G. Brian Karas places readers right in the center of the action. Combined with Bluemle’s immediate, first-person sentences, it’s as if we’re in danger of getting soaked ourselves. The collaged photos of city scenes—along with Karas’ gouache and pencil additions—make for intriguing textures and add concreteness to this warm-hearted story of community.

In the end, everyone heads out for a “surprise in the sky.” It’s a rainbow, and folks pause in the hustle and bustle of their day to look up and savor it. The sky-blue endpapers are further hints that the storm has passed, though this is one storm readers will be pleased to participate in.

 

Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.

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