This is the scene that greets us, that pulls us into the story that is about to be told. We are thus carried seamlessly into a young boy’s world, transported to a place of warmth and love. This warmth and love is most beautifully and simply portrayed in the relationship between the boy and his dadaji, his grandfather. On this afternoon of monsoon, the boy longs to play in the welcome rain, and seeks a playmate in each of his family members. Only Dadaji is able to fill the role this day, and so together they embrace what monsoon brings: a now-filled washtub, perfect for sailing just-made paper boats; raindrops that fall, rest like pearls upon their skin, then continue on their journey; a ground that thirsts no more, its cracks sealed, tucking the ants safely in their homes; peacocks, dancing, grateful for relief from the heat; leaves of the banyan tree, left shiny by their afternoon shower, now a twinkling canopy under which to swing.
Seated atop his dadaji’s shoulders, arms resting beside Dadaji’s smiling face, the boy asks him if he ever swung from the banyan tree, if monsoon came when he was a boy, if peacocks danced in the rain, and if monsoon would come when he himself was a dadaji. The connection of time, the cycle of life, the love of family - all are confirmed with Dadaji’s “yes” and with the heart that is depicted within the pages of this family’s day.
It is my pleasure to share this story with you, this glimpse into the life of a fictitious young boy in India during monsoon season. Although the characters are invented, the atmosphere is not, as we learn from the author’s note at the end of the book. Author Kashmira Sheth grew up on the West coast of India, and recounts to us her early days during these seasons of rain. I usually find author’s notes add to my enjoyment of the story, and this one does so by filling out a fuller picture of daily Indian life.
Bringing a story to life, extending learning, creating opportunities of connection with a story – as a mom and teacher, these are things I love to do. There are many ways to do this with Monsoon Afternoon:
1. Make paper boats with your children like the boy and his dadaji did. My kids and I only made one kind, but there are many different styles you could try. You could then test out your boats on water, and do a little experiment to see which type floats the longest.
2. Bring in mangoes, bananas, and guavas for your children to see and taste. These fruits were mentioned and shown in the book. You could then ask your children to name the fruits that are grown in their region of the world, comparing them in size, shape, and color to the fruit you brought in. You could also talk about climate (and how climate affects plant growth and which plants grow where) and compare the climate in your region to the climate in India.
3. Have the children write a story (or draw a picture, depending on the age and ability of your children) about one of the following: how they spent a rainy day of the past, a time they spent with a grandparent or elderly relative, or how they would ideally like to spend a day in the rain.
4. Have your children use watercolors to paint a picture of a tree or flower that grows in your community. The illustrator, Yoshiko Jaeggi, used watercolors to bring this story to life, painting trees and flowers all throughout.
Monsoon Afternoon is a welcome addition on our bookshelf, and I am thankful to Peachtree Publishers for sending it to me to review as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day!
Multicultural Children's Book Day (MCCBD) was created by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and debuted January 27, 2014. "Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries." The Multicultural Children’s Book Day team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions, and religions within the pages of a book. They encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers, and librarians to follow along via book reviews, author visits, multicultural booklists, and visit the huge multicultural book review link-up that will occur on the MCCBD website 1/27/15.
Here are some ways you can join in celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day:
- Visit The Multicultural Children’s Book Day website and view booklists, reading resources, and other useful multicultural information.
- Visit Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board for more reading ideas.
- Have children bring in their favorite multicultural book to school on this day and share it with the class.
- Watch for the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media and share.
- Visit the Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Educators and Parents on their website.
- Visit MCCBD sponsors (you can find them HERE)
- Create a Multicultural Children’s Book Day display around the classroom or library.
- Visit The Multicultural Children’s Book Day website on January 27th to view and participate in our huge blogger link-up, multicultural book reviews, giveaways, and more!
MCCBD’s 2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold Sponsors: Satya House, MulticulturalKids.com, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild, Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books, The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow Books, Author FeliciaCapers, Chronicle Books Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.