Rita Gray, author
Over the years, Rita Gray's background in psychology and social work has given her the opportunity to work with children and their families, and this has allowed her to see the positive experience books present for kids. Rita spends her free time reading and writing poetry. She's the author of several children's books, including Mama Mine, Mama Mine; Easy Street; and The Wild Little Horse. She and her family live in New York City.
Read more about Rita.
Ryan O'Rourke, illustrator
For many years Ryan O'Rourke's illustrations have appeared in galleries, newspapers, and magazines, including a weekly illustration for the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. One Big Rain marks Ryan's foray into children's picture books. He makes his home in Connecticut.
Read more about Ryan.
The images in this compact collection are appropriately misty-colors and shapes seen through rain. The brief poems cover many styles, including a number of translated haiku, but they are all evocative and easily grasped. Arranged by season, they follow the rain through autumn, winter, spring and summer. The compiler's own poem, "Black Cat" - "Black cat/ at a white/ window-pane/ watches a rose/ run red/ in the rain" - sits on a stark white page, the black cat curling in the lower-right corner, the window with rose in the upper left. The swirls, swoops and geometric shapes are all softened by rain. Other poets included run from Robert Frost to Issa, Hilda Conkling to Lilian Moore, R. Olivares Figueroa (translated from Spanish) to Sigbjørn Obstfelder (translated from Norwegian). Frogs and watermelons, children and shadows, owls and plum blossoms appear in these pages. Soft and refreshing.
With five short poems for each season of the year, this unassuming anthology offers a sampling of poems about rain. Following the anthologist's introduction to the moods and sounds of rain at different times of the year is a short commentary on haiku and its translation adapted from a book by poet, translator, and haiku aficionado, William J. Higginson, whose approach has less to do with counting syllables than with capturing the spirit of the form. Gray's collection of poems, nicely balanced in tone, style, and origin, includes eight Japanese haiku in translation and short works by a number of American poets, some renowned and others little known. Understated in color and somewhat stylized in form, the oil-on-paper illustrations capture the seasons of the year as well as the moods of the verse.
The Horn Book Magazine
Illustrated with an appropriate palette of grays, blues, and olive greens, this anthology of twenty poems quietly celebrates what is probably poetry's favorite kind of weather: rain. Most selections are a handful of lines, from the opening haiku ("the falling leaves/ fall in layers...the rain/ beats on the rain") to Sandburg's "Summer Grass" ("...The rain hears; the rain answers; the rain is slowly coming;/ the rain wets the face of the grass"). On the whole, the poems favor imagery over bouncy rhyme (although there is Sigbjørn Obstfelder's onomatopoetic "Rain," with its lively sound effects), with the pictures adding just enough snap to keep things from becoming too sleepy. The book design is invitingly small, and the placement of the poems on the pages is clean and pleasing to the eye.
School Library Journal
This collection artfully evokes the types of precipitation throughout the seasons. Twenty poems trace the yearly cycle through the leaf-clearing rains of autumn, the forceful squalls of winter, spring's gentle promise, and welcome summer showers. There's a poem by Robert Frost ("To the Thawing Wind") and one by Carl Sandburg ("Summer Grass"), along with selections by Eve Merriam, Richard Lewis, and Issa's delightful "a bush warbler.../ muddy feet wiped/ on the plum blossoms." The short poems are distinctive and well chosen, as in Lilian Moore's "Weather Report," which imagines a wintry crystalline orchard. The delightful oil-on-paper illustrations in muted colors wrap around the text and add whimsical details such as sparrows in knitted caps and scarves. This attractive collection offers a delightful introduction to nature poetry.
This playful group of 20 rain-themed poems includes the works of Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, and Hilda Conkling, among others, as well as several haiku in translation. Although rhymes (such as Dixie Wilson's "I like the gray/ November day,/ And bare, dead boughs/ That coldly sway") are outnumbered by free verse poems and haiku ("stars on the pond-/ again, a pitter-patter of winter rain"), every poem is short, quietly illustrated, and organized by season. The muted tone of this collection may not make readers jump with excitement, but it is certainly well suited to a drizzly afternoon.
Page count: 32
61/2 x 83/4