Author: Tim McCanna
Illustrator: Richard Smythe
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers/2017
Jacket flap blurb: With a drip drop plip plop the rain starts—just a sprinkle at first. But as the storm builds, one lone fox seeks shelter.
A fox, perhaps heading home after a hunting trip, makes its way through the woods. Along the path, it encounters frogs, and mice, and ducks. The sky is gray and soon it begins to rain. At first it’s a gentle pitter patter. But before long, soft sprinkles give way to whirling winds and crashing tree branches. Picking up its pace, our fox friend looks for shelter from the storm—and finds it just in time.
Watersong is incredibly expressive, yet it employs such few words to convey the before, during, and after of a rainstorm. It’s not the number of words that matters. What matters is how they’re used. Author Tim McCanna uses onomatopoeia, or sound words, brilliantly. As the rain begins, we can almost hear the soft drip drop plip plop of the rain droplets hitting the surface of the pond. As the rain picks up, we hear the gurgle burble babble bubble of the fast moving stream. And in the midst of the storm, we hear the hiss, slap, slam of the wind and the branches. His words allow us to experience the emotional drama of the storm.
No matter how expressive the words, without the illustrations, the story would be incomplete. It’s Richard Smyth’s lovely and lively watercolor art that invites us into the woodland setting, that introduces us to the little fox, that allows us to follow the frightened creature to the safety of the hollow log. Had we just the words, we would still hear the rainstorm, but we wouldn’t experience it as vividly. We would just “get out of the rain” instead of fearing for the wellbeing of the fox.
Have you ever heard the expression “April showers bring May flowers”? It seems appropriate to feature Watersong, a book about rain, now that it’s April and spring weather is finally here. I often wonder during a storm, whether it’s a rainstorm, snowstorm, or something even worse, about the animals. Where do they go? Are they safe? How do they survive? I like to believe a higher power is looking out for them. It gives me peace of mind… just like the satisfying ending to Watersong.
Final thoughts: Be sure to check out the back matter on the last page to learn about ecosystems, the water cycle, how rainbows are formed, and more.