The last couple of weeks around my neck of the woods brought some weather weirdness. Every day the forecast called for rain, and every day it looked like it would undoubtedly rain. Alas, no precipitation fell. As a consequence, a pot of rosemary died. I kept hoping the rain would come, so I didn't walk up the driveway and do the job myself. Even after several days of teased-yet-unrealized rain, I continued to neglect the rosemary. I could claim it was the weather's fault, but I know the truth. My laziness killed that plant.
Well, towards the end of last week the rain actually, really, truly came down. I sent a text to my husband that said, "The rain has finally descended upon Kapiti Plain." He had no idea what I was talking about, which slightly disappointed me on two accounts.
- I became aware that he has never read the book I was referencing.
- He's a very smart man. Even without having read the book, I would have thought he could figure out what I was saying. Plus, we speak in quotes and codes all the time with perfect understanding. I guess it was too out there?
Any how, all of that led to today's Favorite Book Friday selection: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema.
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For one thing, it brought the book into my mind and simultaneously gave me the realization that not everybody is familiar with it (one of my childhood favorites, by the way). For another thing, it has rained a great deal since that exchange with the hubs. Ergo, rain has been on my brain. (I rhymed that on purpose.)
As I just mentioned, this was one of my favorite picture books as a child. I cannot put an accurate number on how many times I read it. Let's just agree on the vague quantity of a lot. I loved (and still love) the way the words of the tale flow so easily off the tongue.
This is one of my favorite parts to read.
The story is an African folktale of how Ki-pat helped to end a drought plaguing the land and his herd of cows. It is told in the same manner as the well-known The House that Jack Built.
I would just like to put it on record, though, that The House that Jack Built bores me. I can't help it, people. I feel how I feel, and I much prefer Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.
In addition to the superb verse Verna Aardema puts together, the illustrations by Beatriz Vidal are captivating and fit the story perfectly. A great variety of African plains animals are on display in rich, colorful artwork. Looking at the artwork just now, I was probably too excited to see guineas on a couple of the pages. I've been wanting some, and we currently have dibs on ten eggs that will hatch in about two weeks.
"So the grass grew green, and the cattle fat! And Ki-pat got a wife and a little Ki-pat--"
If you are looking for something entertaining to read, give this book a shot (if you read the book, you'll see there's a pun in what I just wrote). If your children are studying Africa, this is an awesome resource to consider. Though Aarderna assembled the words for the book, she didn't create the story. Here's some history about it, as found in the back of our copy of the book (which is the same copy I had as a child, so the reference to seventy years should now more accurately be ninety or one-hundred):
This tale was discovered in Kenya, Africa, more than seventy years ago by the famous anthropologist Sir Claud Hollis. Sir Claud camped near a Nandi village and learned the native language from two young boys. He learned riddles and proverbs from the Nandi children, and most of the folktales from the Chief Medicine Man. This tale reminded Sir Claud of a cumulative nursery rhyme he had loved as a boy in England, one also familiar to us--"The House that Jack Built." So he called the story "The Nandi House that Jack Built" and included it in his book The Nandi: Their Language and Folklore, published in 1909. Verna Aardema has brought the original story closer to the English nursery rhyme by putting in a cumulative refrain and giving the tale the rhythm of "The House that Jack Built".
If that sounds fascinating and you are really looking to get into a deeper study of the Nandi, look what I found still in print:
To wrap this up, I believe Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain is pretty much a guaranteed success should you read it to your kids. Children like (and retain) rhyming words. That's why so much of children's literature is written in verse. Furthermore, the images used to illustrate the story are captivating. As evidenced from the text message I sent to my husband and my possession of my childhood copy of the book, I never forgot about it. Perhaps that's a good one-word way to describe this story--unforgettable.
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