Friday, May 23, 2014

RAIN SCHOOL by James Rumford - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

     Last Friday we had a deluge. Then another yesterday, complete with thunder shaking the ground. But from what I learned reading my selection for this week, our rain was nothing compared to the rainy season in Chad.  I drank in the account in Rain School. This book is four years old, but it isn't on the Perfect Picture Book Friday list. This is an oversight that must be corrected!

cover image from the Publisher's website
TITLE: Rain School
Author/Illustrator: James Rumford
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2010
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: School/education, Africa

Opening lines: In the country of Chad, it is the first day of school. The dry dirt road is filling up with children. Big brothers and big sisters are leading the way.

Synopsis: The story follows a young boy named Thomas from his first day of school in Chad until the end of the school year nine months later. His first lesson isn’t reading, writing or arithmetic. There are no computers. The first lesson is making bricks.

Why I like this book: Among the books I choose for Perfect Picture Book Friday are books that make me laugh. Books that make me cry. And books that make my eyes widen. This is an eye-widening book.
  The author lived in Chad as a Peace Corps volunteer and taught school there. The book is based upon his personal memory of coming upon the mud ruins of a primary school during the rainy season (summer vacation) as well as his own teaching experience.
    The illustrations in this book are all focused in the foreground. The dusty yellow-orange background conveys the feeling of desert heat and is the simple foil for the story about people and their desire for education. While the school may lack amenities that many of us would deem essentials, the joyous sense of community is palpable.
Resources/Activities: The author has a great page of questions relating to this book on his website relating to thinking about schools in other places and during other times in the past as well as using one picture to spark a story. He chose a Winslow Homer painting for the story spark, but you could choose any!
    Put a world map on the bulletin board and place a push pin for the setting/location of each story that you read. Starting with Chad, see if you can go around the globe. Learn about Chad on the CIA website here.
     Watch a Youtube video reading of the story. The note with the video indicates that Rain School is required for the NYS Common Core Curriculum in third grade.

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF 

What has your weather been like? I keep reminding myself, the grass is always greener on the other side!

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