Category Archives: Category – Classics

Literary classics for extended read-aloud

Day 134 – Umbrella

After waiting (not so) patiently for the rain to stop in last night’s book, tonight we read a story about waiting (not so) patiently for the rain to START. “Umbrella” by Taro Yashima is a delightful take on the idea that a watched pot never boils…but give it some time and when opportunity meets preparation, the payoff can be sweet!umbrella

On her third birthday, little Momo (whose name means “peach” in Japanese) is given an umbrella and a pair of red rain boots as a gift. She is so pleased, she wakes up at midnight just to take another look at her new rain gear. Unfortunately for Momo, the weather is not feeling very cooperative. Every morning she asks her mother “Why the rain doesn’t fall?” and her mother replies “Wait, wait; it will come.”

Momo, however, is not content with waiting. One bright morning she suggests that she might need her umbrella to shield her eyes from the harsh sunlight. “You know you can enjoy the sunlight better without your umbrella,” her mother says, “Let’s keep it for a rainy day.” The very next morning, she suggests that she might need the umbrella to shield her eyes from the wind. “The wind might blow your umbrella away,” her mother replies,” Let’s keep it for a rainy day.”

It is not until many, many days later that Momo’s mother wakes her to say “Get up. Get up. What a surprise for you!”…it is raining at last! Terribly excited, Momo dons her rain gear and heads out for her nursery school with her mother. Along the way she reminds herself to walk straight like a “grown-up lady”, and she listens to the wonderful music of the raindrops falling on her umbrella…”pon pollo, pon pollo…” The rain continues to fall all day, and Momo hears the music again on her way home, when her father comes to pick her up. The book ends by telling the reader that Momo is grown now…and the narrator wonders aloud whether Momo remembers that this was the first time that she used her umbrella, and that this was the first time that she walked alone without holding her mother or her father’s hand.

This is a sweet story, and I really enjoyed the vintage feel of the illustrations in this Caldecott Honor book which was first published in 1958. In “Umbrella” Mr. Yashima succeeds at describing how I think a three year old child would react to receiving his or her first umbrella…from the increasingly restless anticipation of that first raindrop to the feeling that using your umbrella for the first time suddenly requires you to behave like a grown-up. I know our youngest continues to be fascinated with umbrellas (and splashing in puddles), and it made me smile imagining her in Momo’s shoes.