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Monsoon    by Uma Krishnaswami & Jamel Akib order for
by Uma Krishnaswami
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Children understand anticipation - of parties, holidays, visits of loved ones - and Monsoon is all about anticipation of a huge event in many parts of the world, the coming of the rainy season. It begins 'All summer we have worn the scent of dust - gravelly, grainy, gritty dust' and continues to show us what it's like to be in the skin of a young girl in India as she interacts with friends and family while awaiting monsoon rains.

They go to the market and about their daily activities - all the while wondering when, when will the monsoon rains come? And as all children do, this little girl worries what if the rains never come? She folds paper boats and the heat makes her feel 'like a crocodile crouching snap-jawed.' There are bedtime stories from Nani of the old days 'before fields gave way to city streets'. They listen to a peacock's wail and temple bells, and wait for thunder to pound 'a giant heartbeat.'

It finally comes - 'the rain, the perfect rain, the stretching, sweeping sheet of rain storms down' and a coin is offered to 'potbellied Ganesh, god of beginnings.' The illustrations are crowded with the color of an Indian city, so that you can almost smell the hot spices in the air. A page at the end gives information on the meteorological conditions that give rise to a monsoon, where monsoons happen, and music and dance that relates to the season.

Read Monsoon together to explore the culture of India, as well as the anticipation of a major seasonal event - a feeling experienced in the same way all around the world.

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