Title: Rain School
Author and Illustrator: James Rumford
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Word Count: 451
Top 10 Element: Beginnings and Endings
I am participating in Picture Books 14:14, a challenge created by Christie of Write Wild that encourages bloggers to review 14 picture books in 14 days, starting on Feb. 14th.
Rain School highlights some of the struggles that children face in getting an education, as well as the great lengths that people will go through to go to school - even if involves building the school itself! The story was inspired by the author's own experiences in Chad as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Analysis: Beginnings and EndingsRain School is a bit of a circular story, which makes it an ideal candidate for studying the importance and interrelationship of beginnings and endings. The story opens with the first day of school.
"In the country of Chad, it is the first day of school. The dry dirt road is filling up with children. Big brothers and big sisters are leading the way."
Children can easily imagine themselves in this situation, due to the familiarity of experience first days of school, and this connection is drawn out by the constant questions young Thomas asks as he walks to school for the very first time.
The big twist is revealed on the third spread, "Thomas arrives at the schoolyard, but there are no classrooms. There are no desk. It doesn't matter. There is a teacher. 'We will build our school,' she says. 'This is the first lesson.'"
The story continues from there and documents the process of building the school and some of the lessons that the children learn. The last day of school coincides with the beginning of the rainy season, and the strong winds and heavy rains demolish the mud brick school. The story then ends, back where it began.
"Come September, school will start over. Thomas will be a big brother then, leading the children on their first day to school. They will all stand in front of their smiling teachers, ready to build their school again."
As the end-is-the-beginning concludes, it helps students to see the impact and importance of this yearly process and how hard these children work for their education. Powerful stuff.
Want more picture book analyses? Click here to read my other posts for Picture Books 14:14 or check out these other great posts for the Picture Book 14:14 Challenge going on the rest of this month.