Bringing the Rain

07/08/2012

Many of us are sweltering under heat waves. My intuition is calling me to share this treasure that has meant so much to me through the years, and perhaps again -as I’ve shared lately- this is an example of how poetry helps. Here is a story, about a story.

When my two boys were very young, the only TV-time was either a few choice children’s movies we played over and again, and certain programs on PBS. I miss Bill Nye The Science Guy and would’ve watched his show to this day, but a main favorite for all three of us was Reading Rainbow. Hosted by LeVar Burton, it featured famous people reading wonderful children’s books and truly bringing them to life. One day the episode was so special I was glued to the TV even more than my sons, who played quietly nearby with toys. This incredible story with gorgeous imagery and hypnotic poetry was narrated by the gloriously deep and melodious voice of none other than James Earl Jones.

Back then I didn’t have a VCR and had no way to tape that episode. However it haunted me in a most wonderful way. I tried my best to memorize parts of it, and recited them over and over for the next while. I suppose it’s not surprising really, that only a couple of weeks later during a visit to a favorite second-hand bookstore, I discovered this gem in the children’s section. I promptly memorized it and it became a favorite for my boys to request hearing. I still have that treasured book, along with several other cherished children’s books, waiting to share with grandchildren in my future, if I may be so lucky.

I’ve written out the poem to enjoy. And, because I like to include info for everyone, here is the link to view this book on Amazon.com as well as the ISBN info. May this story bring you joy, and hope of relief from heat waves.

Bringing The Rain To Kapiti Plain

Retold by Verna Aardema with Artwork by Beatriz Vidal
Publisher: Puffin (May 20, 1992)
ISBN-10: 0140546162
ISBN-13: 978-0140546163

This is the great Kapiti Plain,
All fresh and green from the African rains ~
A sea of grass for the ground birds to nest in,
And patches of shade for wild creatures to rest in;
With acacia trees for giraffes to browse on,
And grass for the herdsmen to pasture their cows on.

But one year the rains were so very belated
That all the big wild creatures migrated.
Then Ki-apt helped to end that terrible drought ~
And this story tells how it all came about!

This is the cloud, all heavy with rain, That shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.
This is the grass, all brown and dead, That needed the rain from the cloud overhead – The big, black cloud, all heavy with rain, That shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.

These are the cows, all hungry and dry, Who mooed for the rain to fall from the sky; To green up the grass, all brown and dead, That needed the rain from the cloud overhead – The big, black cloud, all heavy with rain, That shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.

This is Ki-pat, who watched his herd As he stood on one leg, like a big stork bird; Ki-pat whose cows were so hungry and dry, They mooed for the rain to fall from the sky; To green-up the grass, all brown and dead, That needed the rain from the cloud overhead – The big, black cloud, all heavy with rain, That shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.

This is the eagle who dropped a feather, A feather that helped to change the weather. It fell near Ki-pat, who watched his herd As he stood on one leg, like a big stork bird; Ki-pat whose cows were so hungry and dry, They mooed for the rain to fall from the sky; To green-up the grass, all brown and dead, That needed the rain from the cloud overhead – The big, black cloud, all heavy with rain, That shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.

This is the arrow Ki-pat put together, With a slender stick and an eagle feather; From the eagle who happened to drop a feather, A feather that helped change the weather.

It fell near Ki-pat, who watched his herd As he stood on one leg, like a big stork bird; Ki-pat whose cows were so hungry and dry, They mooed for the rain to fall from the sky; To green-up the grass, all brown and dead, That needed the rain from the cloud overhead – The big, black cloud, all heavy with rain, That shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.

This is the bow, so long and strong, And strung with a string, a leather thong; A bow for the arrow Ki-pat put together With a slender stick and an eagle feather; From the eagle who happened to drop a feather, A feather that helped change the weather.

It fell near Ki-pat, who watched his herd As he stood on one leg, like a big stork bird; Ki-pat whose cows were so hungry and dry, They mooed for the rain to fall from the sky; To green-up the grass, all brown and dead, That needed the rain from the cloud overhead – The big, black cloud, all heavy with rain, That shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.

This was the shot that pierced the cloud And loosed the rain with thunder LOUD! A shot from the bow so long and strong And strung with a string, a leather thong; A bow for the arrow Ki-pat put together With a slender stick and an eagle feather; From the eagle who happened to drop a feather, A feather that helped change the weather.

It fell near Ki-pat, who watched his herd As he stood on one leg, like a big stork bird; Ki-pat whose cows were so hungry and dry, They mooed for the rain to fall from the sky; To green-up the grass, all brown and dead, That needed the rain from the cloud overhead – The big, black cloud, all heavy with rain, That shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.

So the grass grew green, and the cattle fat! And Ki-pat got a wife and a little Ki-pat – Who tends the cows now, and shoots down the rain, When black clouds shadow Kapiti plain.

25 responses to Bringing the Rain

  1. 

    Gina~This brought tears to my eyes yet again! From Bill Nye – who filled our lives with such love of the magic of our world to the amazing story you offered in full by the larger than life voice of the great James Earl Jones, it is a wonder that we did not raise our children side by side. I too have a rather large collection of books awaiting grandchildren or other young readers who may grace my life and spent many an hour reading them for my pleasure as well as that of my children. That my son went on to major in Physics I attribute in part to Mr. Nye and the lovely memories you have evoked leave me nothing short of breathless. Thank you!

    • 

      Wow, Cathrine! Thank YOU! We are obviously kindred spirits, and it seems we have been living similar lives. Like I opened with in this post, this book kept coming to my mind when I was trying to work on other things – insisting to be shared. And you have put it so well in writing ‘reading them for my own pleasure as well as that of my children’. So glad you enjoyed this. That it touched a chord and brought back wonderful memories for you is the best I could hope for! I wish I could find the words to let you know how much your comment means to me! You have touched me deeply. Hugs, Gina

  2. 

    “Between the Lions” (another PBS gem) did a neat episode with that book as well. 🙂

  3. 

    Such a wonderful post Gina!!! I loved Reading Rainbow as well and now can’t get the theme song out of my head (darnit!!). ;). I really enjoyed reading this story. Thank you for sharing the magic honey. Hugs to you!!!

    • 

      (..Reading RAIN-bowww..!) Ah yes. Apologies for that 😉 I nearly posted the YouTube I discovered that is 28 minutes long with the ENTIRE episode, with children sharing what they think thunder is, and LeVar being ‘rained out’ of a picnic so staying home with some good books. An awesome episode. But you know that! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment dear one. Nice big hugs back!!

  4. 

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story, Gina. I loved hearing James Earl Jones read the book.
    Russ

    • 

      Isn’t his voice and inflection utterly perfect with this story? And the sound effects are great too. So glad you took a moment to check it out, and I’m especially delighted that you enjoyed it! Thanks Russ. Hugs, Gina

  5. 

    I’ve read this many times to my class…It’s a magical stories with such distinct drawings

  6. 

    Love this story so much.Thank you for reminding me to pull it our during our tropical temperatures:)

  7. 

    Oh I so loved this! I can’t wait to share with my little ones! My husband, of course, has probably seen this! Thank you. What a lovely post and resource to share.

  8. 

    No one could have done justice to this as much as the great James E. Jones. I would listen to a shopping list if he were the one reading it.
    I have passed my children’s favorite books on to them for their own library of memories and my oldest has a added to his since the birth of his son, now 2. It was hard to let them go, I guess the books and the boys, and have asked that their too infrequent visits include my grandson’s favorite books…which is great, but I do miss having them here. Perhaps it’s time to rebuild my own again, for having watched this, I realize that I wasn’t reading them for the boys alone.

    • 

      Hello Rhonda, what a great idea! To pass the books along – as hard as that can be. My sons will be a while before the family years start, so I will happily hold on to our great books from childhood for now. And you make me laugh about your wise truth that Mr. Jones could read anything, heck a BILL even, and it would sound good to me! Thanks also for sharing that recognition of how even us adults can enjoy children’s books, and are maybe reading aloud not only for them alone 😀

  9. 

    Love the artwork! When my daughter was young I always chose books by art work first, since the visuals were much more important to a pre-reader. Of course content matters too… Thanks for this gem.
    *anna

    • 

      Thanks Anna, and I know what you mean. I too was greatly influenced by the artwork in children’s books, for me as much as for my wee ones (since there were hundreds of re-reads!). So glad you enjoyed this one. Thanks again!
      Hugs, Gina

  10. 

    I loved Reading Rainbow, too. =0)