I can't believe now that I almost passed this book by. I came across it at one of our regular library visits, flipped through it, and set it aside when I saw it had over 60 pages and wasn't really a story. But for some reason I came back to it and took it along. It was a Robert McCloskey book, after all, and I knew that several of his books (though not this particular one) are on the Ambleside Online list for Year 0.
At home it sat in our library basket for a few days until I finally got it out to read at one of our poetry teatimes. I wasn't sure how it would go. Maybe I would just read a few pages. Imagine my wonder when my (perfectly normal) five- and three-year-old boys sat spellbound until the very last page. Well, almost. JJ started making some noise while I was reading the last page, but SA shushed him and made me read it over again. It was a magical moment.
But even after that, I still wasn't sure if that was a one-time occurrence, or if the book would continue to appeal to them in the same way. I put it on the table in a pile of books for the next day's teatime, just to see if they'd ask for it. And they did. And we read it again. They kept requesting it, not every day, but regularly. Sometimes we only read the second half of the book (the part with the building storm). By the fifth time we read it, JJ was saying his favourite lines with me.
The rain comes closer and closer.
Now you hear a million splashes.
Now you even see the drops
on the water...
on the age-old rocky point...
on the bayberry...
on the grass...
Now take a breath--
(JJ chimes in) IT'S RAINING ON YOU!
So what's the book all about? It's about an idyllic summer on an island in Maine. It doesn't really have a storyline. Rather, it drifts from memory to memory...dark clouds approaching until you're standing in a shower of rain; fog lifting as the sun rises; swimming with friends, then building castles on the beach; sailing among the islands; getting ready for a hurricane. The language has a rhythm to it, and it evokes feelings of excitement, of peace, of anticipation, of awe at the power of a storm. I know, it doesn't sound like a book little boys might be enthralled by. But they were, and are.
Why don't you try it and see what your little ones think of it? I'd love to hear how other children respond to this book. (I think I'm still in disbelief at how much my boys loved it. Who would have thought?)
I'll be linking up this post with Read Aloud Thursday over at Hope is the Word blog.