Monsoon Afternoon by Kashmira Sheth, illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi
A little boy sees the dark clouds gathering just before the rain begins to fall. He asks each person in his family to join him playing outside in the rain, but no one will until his Dadaji, grandfather, finds him looking glum by the open door. The boy and his grandfather float paper boats in the washtub until the rain stops. They take a walk and notice that the ants have disappeared, the banyan leaves are shining, and the peacocks are dancing, just as they did when Dadaji was a boy. When his grandmother, Dadima, scolds them for tracking in mud, that too is just as it was when Dadaji was a child.
This book excels at bridging the cultural gap, allowing the non-Indian children to experience a monsoon through play that is universal. Children will immediately relate to not having family play with them, the kindness of grandparents, and the scolding for making a mess. Through that understanding they will come to see that cultures and regions may differ, but there is a universal language and world. This book is at once a window and a mirror.
Jaeggi’s illustrations enhance the story, showing the grandfather as a boy, the brilliance of a peacock’s tail, and the pleasure of rain. Children may be surprised to see that people head outdoors into the rain rather than staying indoors, but they will also understand the immediate appeal of playing in the water.
Recommended for being a book that is both specific and universal, this book also tells a great story of a boy and his grandfather together. Appropriate for ages 4-7.