Monday, June 25, 2007

Hot in the City

We felt it just last week. The thick, oppressive heat of summer weighing on us, the sun beating down on us, the wondering if we were in for months of this, wondering when we might have a little relief. We found some ways to get that, which was good. But even better, then came the glory of a hard summer rain washing the haze of out the air, a cooler wind whipping the hanging clouds of heat away. It's a cycle that repeats through summer, that defines those months as surely as skipping feet and sprinklers and popsicles. And it's a feature of lots of great books about weathering the warm months in the heart of the urban jungle (although one or two end with some other cooling). Here are a few hot picks to remind you: a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse, ill. Jon J. Muth

A drought has everyone drooping, even the garden, when little Tess starts to feel rain coming. She and her friends don their swimsuits, get permission to go out under the "swollen sky," and run, "squealing and whooping" up the block with such glee that even the mamas join in, shedding hose and shoes and lifting their skirts. Wonderful.

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue, by Karen English, ill. Javaka Steptoe

A good story for older children, this hot day is made even worse by the fact that friends Renee and Kishi have had a falling out over the last blue popsicle. Eventually, though, they are both drawn into skipping games, and when the ice cream truck comes by, they split the last blue treat and forget all about the fight and the heat.

Silver Rain Brown, by M.C. Helldorfer, ill. Teresa Flavin

This book features a child and his very pregnant mother trying to get through the hot days and nights. A rain brings welcome relief, and all the children in the neighbourhood run in it, drinking it from the sky, and even the boy's mother joins in. In that rainfall, later that night, the boy and his mother take a taxi to the hospital, where the baby is born and named Silver Rain Brown for her coming with the change in weather.

Hot City, by Barbara Joosse, ill. R. Gregory Christie

A quirkily-painted-but-fun pair of children inhabit an urban landcape rendered in the kind of cornea-searing yellows, oranges, and fuschias that scream HOT! in this simple story of seeking cool. After enjoying snow cones, they find cool and a pleasant way to pass the time getting lost in the land of imagination to be found in the library. (Yes, I know. But I love this one.)

One Hot Summer Day, by Nina Crews

One of the simpler books, this one shows a cute young girl in Crews's funky photo collage trying to find cool activities, and then, at last, singing and dancing in the cooling rain.

How Hot Was It? by Jane Barclay, ill. Janice Donato

This book is full of fun, bouncy rhymes that play with the sounds of language. Want a sample?

It was a sizzling, fizzling, record-breaking, belly-aching, faces-red-as-beets, shorts-stuck-to-our-seats kind of hot.

The illustrations, too, capture perfectly the postures and actions of children slouching around on a hot day. In this book, it's a hose that beats the heat in the end, though I'm not sure spraying his suit-clad dad was necessarily a prudent move... At least he seems to take it with a smile!

For these and other great hot-weather stories, visit your (air-conditioned!) local library!

(Your libraries are, in fact, designated cooling centres during open hours.)

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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