One animal helps two animals out of the doldrums.
Water Buffalo and Crane are in a rut. The weather’s too hot, and “when one is all the time hot, days grow long and the world small.” Indeed, their hill is exaggeratedly rounded, as if they’re standing on a shrunken Earth. The air’s yellow; Water Buffalo’s eyelids are at half-mast, and he licks sweat off his lip. Their expressions are amusing—but not to them. What can break their sweltering, oppressive gloom? “ ‘How do you do?’ said someone new.” An unforeseen rhyme! Goat licks Water Buffalo and Crane, and “then, as sudden as summer rain, Goat started dancing.” Dancing is contagious. The three dance so high their heads leave the page. “They forgot the sun. They forgot the heat. Had the earth ever smelled so sweet?” Using gouache paint on watercolor paper, Marino swirls her hot yellows into cooler blues and greens, then finally into blue-pinks. Goat departs, but Crane and Water Buffalo are changed for good: the earth feels pleasant, and there are new animals to greet. Is the “summer rain,” as per the text, merely a figure of speech describing Goat’s sudden dancing? Or is it as real as the illustrations show it, sprinkling down? Does it matter?
The story is serious about its shift from glum to optimistic, but the background colors and the animals’ humorous expressions keep it light throughout—anyone who’s needed this kind of intervention will relate. (Picture book. 3-7)