Maya Prays for Rain

Susan Tar­cov; Ana Ochoa, illus.

  • Review
By – March 24, 2017

A walk through her neigh­bor­hood on a love­ly fall day filled with sun­ny blue skies finds Maya meet­ing many of her neigh­bors out­doors. Each neigh­bor is using the per­fect weath­er to his or her advan­tage. One fam­i­ly is load­ing their car for a pic­nic, one is paint­ing their fence with slow dry­ing paint — only good on a day with­out rain — and one is host­ing a daugh­ter’s birth­day in the back­yard, com­plete with hid­den trea­sures. Maya’s friend, Wendy, men­tions that today, Shem­i­ni Atzeret, will be the day Jews go to syn­a­gogue to pray for rain. Maya is dev­as­tat­ed by the idea of rain­fall lat­er in the day, and takes it upon her­self to run through the neigh­bor­hood, warn­ing all her neigh­bors to can­cel their out­door plans, as the rain will be com­ing. She even runs to the rab­bi to ask him NOT to say the prayer for rain today. The kind­ly rab­bi explains to her that she need not be wor­ried, as the prayer is actu­al­ly said for rain in Israel, so that crops and flo­ra will grow there dur­ing the year; he assures her it will not can­cel her neigh­bors’ out­door plans.
The sto­ry is fol­lowed by a para­graph explain­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of Sukkot and Shem­i­ni Atzeret in the Jew­ish calendar.

Col­or­ful and ani­mat­ed age-appro­pri­ate illus­tra­tions per­fect­ly enhance the text. Beau­ti­ful pic­tures of trees, but­ter­flies, green back­yards, and trees chang­ing col­or for fall illus­trate the pages and reflect the season.

This love­ly sto­ry intro­duces Maya’s neigh­bors, many with var­ied eth­nic back­grounds, as well as Jew­ish hol­i­days and shows the strong sense of rela­tion­ship between all the neigh­bors. This is both an intro­duc­tion to the hol­i­days of Sukkot, Sim­chat Torah, and Shem­i­ni Atzeret and also pro­vides a con­nec­tion to the land of Israel, giv­ing much Jew­ish con­tent and engen­der­ing Jew­ish con­nec­tions as part of a pre-school story.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 4 – 7 and good for use both in the home and the classroom.

Shelly Feit has an M.L.S. and a Sixth-year Spe­cial­ist’s Cer­tifi­cate in infor­ma­tion sci­ence. She is the library direc­tor and media spe­cial­ist at the Mori­ah School in Engle­wood, NJ.

Discussion Questions