Kashmira Sheth, illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi,
Peachtree Publishers, 2008.
Kashmira Sheth and Yoshiko Jaeggi’s second picture book collaboration, Monsoon Afternoon, is just as delightful as their first, My Dadima Wears a Sari.
When the monsoon arrives, bringing rain and relief from the long summer heat, a young boy is in search of a playmate to enjoy it with. Just as it seems that everyone in the family is too busy and no fun will be had, grandpa (Dadaji) comes to the rescue.
As it turns out, the duo soaks up a lot more than raindrops while sailing paper boats in a rain-filled washtub and enjoying an afternoon of timeless fun. The boy asks many questions: “Dadaji, did you ever swing on this banyan tree?,” “Did peacocks dance in the rain and did ants disappear when you were little?” “Will Monsoon come when I become a dadaji?” - and he marvels at Dadaji’s answers, while trying to imagine him as a young boy, swinging on the tree and playing in the rain.
Whether picking up the last few mangoes of the season or tracking mud on the floor at home and being scolded by Dadima (grandma), their afternoon together is reassuring: no matter your age, some things don’t change.
Yoshiko Jaeggi’s soft, expressive watercolors are a perfect complement to Sheth's evocative text, and offer a wealth of cultural details, such as the background image of a young woman praying by the banyan tree (a tree considered sacred by the Hindus).
A note from the author at the end of the book adds much to the story as it speaks fondly of her growing up in the West Coast of India, when the arrival of the monsoon put an end to the mango season and coincided with the beginning of the school year.
Selected as an honor book for the 2009 APALA Award, this intergenerational story makes for a heart-warming read-aloud, one that will please any child who has ever had the pleasure of discovering that grandpa/grandma is a friend.