This lovely, gentle story fills a giant gap in Jewish children’s literature. Books without political undertones are needed to teach children in the U.S. and around the world what Israeli life is like: its rhythms, its atmosphere; its tastes, feels, and smells. Here is a book that will entice young readers or listeners to open their minds and let Israel in, and it’s all done with sweetness and a light, easy touch. This charming story, told in lyrical language and illustrated with sensuous art, just hits the spot.
Mrs. Strauss can’t sleep because there’s too much noise in her town and too many distractions. But when she hears a different kind of sound — that of the long-awaited first rainfall of the season — it lulls and soothes her. The rain brings joy to all those waiting for it to nourish and rebalance the too-dry land. In Israel, rain is never taken for granted. Each drop is greeted with relief and joyful celebration.
This deceptively simple tale highlights a major concern of Israeli life. The need for rain and the fear of drought are never far from mind. The accompanying illustrations are outstanding. With color and movement, they convey a dry, hazy Israeli day and then a gloriously rainy one with exactly the right flair. A note at the end of the book discusses the importance of rain, explains a bit about the climate, and offers some additional food for thought.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.