Ostensibly, this is a story about a girl and her ball and the rain: Mina wants to play soccer, but the monsoon has arrived in her South Asian village.
When her mother tells her to stay inside to prevent catching cold, Mina turns to her sandalwood elephant: “Ammi doesn’t understand…she has never felt that explosion of happiness when you score a goal.” To deal with her frustration, she drums on the tabla to chase away the rain. She asks the doodh wallah why it has to rain; the milkman tells her that the monsoons are a time “to dance and be happy.” Mina dances to stop the rain. Finally, in searching for craft supplies in her mother’s cabinet, Mina finds something that she has never seen before—Ammi’s soccer jersey! Mina realizes that Ammi does understand, and when the clouds break, Mina and Ammi play soccer together. The book’s backmatter includes a glossary with pronunciations for Hindi/Urdu words in the book. Many such phrases appear in the text without adjacent translations (“Nahi beta, stay inside,” Mina’s mother says, without explanation), which is very refreshing for readers who may see themselves in Mina, while context makes them accessible to non-Hindi/Urdu speakers. Dasgupta’s illustrations are dynamic and evocative, complementing Guidroz’s energetic text well, her big-eyed characters exuding energy and verve.
On close inspection, it is so much more than it seems: a delightful picture book about a girl child discovering a wondrous secret about her mother. (Picture book. 4-8)