Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Lila and the Secret of Rain

Lila and the Secret of Rain

Spring 2008 Picture Books
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Author: David Conway
Illustrator: Jude Daly
ISBN: 978-1-84507-407-4
Hardcover Price: $16.95
In this tale of a withering drought, the opening double page spread shows a semi-circle of loaf-shaped huts baking beneath a gigantic yellow sun which seems to hang only inches above Lila's Kenyan home. "It was too hot to gather firewood, too hot to weed the village garden, and even too hot to milk the cow." When her grandfather reveals the secret of how to make it rain ("You must climb the highest mountain...and tell the sky the saddest thing you know."), Lila sets out on a journey to do exactly that. Jude Daly gives this tale visual rhythm by contrasting vertical panels-used to create the passage of time and distance-with wide-open double page spreads that show the vast emptiness of the desert. Lila, appropriately, is a tiny figure bent on an heroic mission against the seemingly insurmountable forces of nature. But insurmountable they are not, and when the clouds gather and lightning tears across the sky, Lila returns home to find "the villagers were celebrating the rain with music and dance." The carefully shaped text-folkloric in its minimalism-is as spare as the landscape itself and every bit as beautiful.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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