As a librarian and teacher, I always
look forward to a new Jan Brett release. In her newest book, she
again delights the senses with a trip to a tropical rain forest.
"The Umbrella" contains all the Brett components we have come to
love and expect.
Large central panels tell the story
of a young boy, Carlos, on a typical day of adventure and
exploration. Set in a lush tropical rain forest patterned after the
Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica where Brett once visited, she
has woven a story about a boy in search of birds and animals that
seem to appear and disappear in the mists.
Leaving his large umbrella made from
the leaves abundantly found in that habitat, Carlos begins to climb
a giant fig tree. A tiny green tree frog with popping red-orange
eyes is the first to find the puddle inside the umbrella, made by
the drip, drip, drip falling from the trees. He is our commentator
for the rest of the story, introducing each new visitor with a
Spanish exclamation (and English translation) that expresses his
displeasure with sharing his new home.
Although Carlos does not see any
animals and birds on this day, unknown to him, many of the forest
animals and birds discover his umbrella at the base of the tree.
They, of course, think it is a wonderful place in which to rest or
hide -- until one too many visitors sends the umbrella toppling into
the river with a splash. They then scramble to the bank, a little
wet and grumpy, while Carlos climbs down the tree, a bit
disappointed in his quest. He returns home with the umbrella,
wondering where all the birds and animals were that day. Only the
small tree frog accompanies Carlos home, settling inside the leaf
umbrella, where he is happy to finally have the puddle all to
[to top of second column in
The smaller left- and right-hand
side panels record the climb that Carlos makes from the forest's
floor to the canopy of the "cloud forest," as well as the animal or
bird that is next to enter the story. This is a signature Brett
design that adults and children alike have come to admire. Miniature
stories within the story, these panels help children review and
predict elements that build valuable comprehension skills and build
excitement as the story develops. In "The Umbrella," Brett uses the
shape of the giant fig leaf as the border of her artwork.
Vibrant colors and lush details
abound. Each animal's face reflects emotions from disgust, to fear,
to "Oh, boy, here we go now!" The two-page spread of the umbrella
landing in the river with all the animals aboard will surely lend
many minutes of delight to anyone of any age reading this story.
So stop by the library or call us at
732-5732 to see this newest Jan Brett masterpiece. Of course, if it
is already checked out, take home another of your favorite Brett
books or a new author instead!
Moreland, youth services librarian, Lincoln Public