I’ve been a fan of author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski for a long time. She’s incredibly creative, kind, talented, and she’s been a generous mentor for many years. I asked her about one of her newest picture books, WHEN THE RAIN CAME DOWN, illustrated by Keisha Morris, and this is what she told me.

“I grew up watching the ups and downs of the bayou next to my house. But as more and more oil companies marched into Louisiana, diverting the Miss. River and its silt, affecting the marshes and coastlines, we saw higher and higher water and bigger storms coming toward land unimpeded.

My book, WHEN THE RAIN CAME DOWN, is in part about Hurricane Katrina, which was followed by Rita in 2005. But flooding is not always due to a hurricane and flooding can happen in every state of the union.

Years after those storms, I was trying to write a story about a family that was over-the-top friendly and invited everyone over. But my mind kept coming back to people who opened doors to those in need during the floods.

As a writer, I was fascinated by up and down rhythm of it all. The rain coming down water rising up and then eventually, the people rising up, the sun rising up, communities rising up.

It made me cry. And write.

Since then, I’ve learned more about restoration projects along the Gulf Coast. You can find many of them on my website: helakoskibooks.com

What can we do?

Be conscious of planting native plants and grasses wherever you live. Use natural products, and support “green” organizations.

Do not buy cypress mulch –we need those trees to slow down storms.

Weather disasters often leave people needing help–and not only during floods. I hope kids will see the power we have and will one day reach out to others and say COME OVER.”

This beautiful book is essential not only for children who’ve lived through natural disasters but for all of us witnessing what is going on in our world. May we all remember to reach out and say COME OVER. Thank you, Leslie Helakoski!

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