Water Rolls, Water Rises

books white water rolls water risesPat Mora,
illustrated by Meilo So



  • John Burroughs Riverby Award winner 2015
  • Charlotte Zolotow Award Honor Book for 2015
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book for 2015
  • 2015 Green Earth Book Award Short List
  • The Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year list, with a notation for Outstanding Merit
  • Delaware Diamonds 2015-2016 Titles
  • Book Links’ Best of 2014 list.
  • Orginal Art Show Traveling Exhibition
  • New York Public Library’s annual list of 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • Finalist for the Cybils award
  • CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center) Choices list

Evocative watercolor images and graceful short poems in Spanish and English celebrate water in all its forms and around the world. What appears at first to be a simple expression of the myriad forms of water—from waves to clouds, fog and frost and in lazy marshes, churning rivers, breaking waves and more—becomes a trip around the world as readers come to realize that the locations and people shown are just as wide-ranging. A picture key at the end identifies the location for each illustration. The cover images, the front inspired by Victoria Falls in southern Africa and the back, a geyser in Iceland, set the stage for the variety inside. Mora’s deceptively simple three-line poems are full of imagery, too. “In the murmur of marsh wind, / water slumbers on moss, / whispers soft songs far under frog feet.” (In Spanish: “En el viento susurrante de los pantanos, / el agua duerme sobre el musgo, / murmura suaves canciones bajo patitas de ranas.”) Watercolors are the perfect accompaniment to this pleasing collection, and So’s mastery of her medium is evident in the wide range of her illustrations, some with lines and detail, others with bold brush strokes or delicate shading. She concludes with an image of our watery world and its dry moon from space, an important reminder. A lovely bilingual addition to the “sense of wonder” shelf. (Picture book. 4-9)

Starred review Kirkus Review july 2014

So’s spare mixed-media illustrations swing from placid to tempestuous, creating an effective and fitting ebb and flow.

Publishers Weekly Sept 2014

This impressive collaboration by Mora and So poetically renders water with emotional qualities like joy or power, calm or yearning. Compare the inner life of water in a wild rice marsh in northern Minnesota and the playful searching of a spring near a village in Peloponnese, Greece. Both are captured brilliantly in Water Rolls, Water Rises without pretention or triteness.

Rebecca G. Aguilar

This handsome, bilingual picture book transports children around the world to view water in many forms.
…With a strongsense of line, form, and color, So creates a varied series of intriguing pictures, each with a strong sense of place. For readers wondering where in the world each scene is located, an appended guide offers aminiature of each illustration and identifies each place. A beautiful addition to classroom units on water and a useful gateway to global awareness.

Carolyn Phelan Booklist Oct 2014

[If] a book like Water Rolls, Water Rises can make me stop and think about the natural world, if only for a second, imagine what it could do for an actual child’s growing brain. The bilingual text in both English and Spanish is complemented by illustrator Meilo So’s mixed media illustrations and contains both an Author’s Note and key for identifying the images in the book in the back. Easy on the eyes and the ears, this is one clever little book that can slip onto any home library shelf without a second thought. Sublime.

Betsy Bird nov 2014

Her mixed media illustrations capture locations all over the world—in fact, the book closes with “About the Images in the Book,” a list of the locations that inspired the images—and people of all skin colors. In 32 pages, she takes us to Iceland, India, Mexico, Chile, California, China, and many more places, making this much more than just a book about water. It’s a trip around the planet.

Her eye-catching lines swoop and swirl—needless to say, there are a lot of waves in this book—and her details are precise. She captures the movement and majesty of water on the planet in a way that is breathtaking in spots—with playful perspectives (such as, looking up from the bottom of a well) and vivid colors. (There’s a forest-in-autumn spread that is as bright and beautiful as can be.) Meilo is capable of so much texture and eloquence with her brushstrokes, and her artwork really shines here.

Julie Danielson Kirkus Blog Dec 2014

So’s watercolor illustrations match the tone of the writing perfectly and capture the different landscapes and cultural nuances.

School Library Journal Feb 2015

Beyond scarcity in this drought year, water is also muse for 14 mini-poems in both Spanish and English. Never mind short showers and brown lawns. Emphasis here is on awe — seasons and places shaped by water. Lovely mixed-media landscapes provide context from the hot desert canyon to an autumn birch forest. A tip for grown-ups: Such accessible poems easily serve as an invite for kids to play with words themselves and appreciate life-giving water all at once.

SF Gate

The magic of the water cycle nearly splashes off the pages of WATER ROLLS, WATER RISES, EL AGUARUEDA, EL AGUA SUBE written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Meilo So: “Blown by the wind, water sails high. Tumbling cloud plumes curl through the air. Slow into rivers, water slithers and snakes, through silent canyons at twilight and dawn.”
The book blends English and Spanish lyrical imagery with vivid eye-catching illustrations to tell the story of water’s varied forms and locations as it travels the world. Water Rolls, Water Rises would make a nice addition to any home or classroom library. It ties in nicely with language arts, writing, science, or for pure reading enjoyment.


Other praises..

This is a lovely and inventive trip around the world which shows us that just as water differs so do the people and places that reap its benefits. Meilo So’s perfect watercolors accompany the pleasing rhythms of the poetic text, using beautiful lines and elegant details to explore the movement and grandeur. The design is elegant and eye-catching. Truly beautiful, and worthy of our attention.

Ready for an around-the-world, invigorating, aquatic tour? Readers: get ready to be refreshed, guided by Pat Mora’s verses and Meilo So’s artistry… Mora writes of rolling, rising, gliding, plunging, whispering water. Mora and So’s wet playground awaits.

Mora celebrates the power and life-giving necessity of water. Each two-page spread addresses a different quality of water through just one poetic sentence. Mora’s writing is beautiful and evocative. So’s mixed media illustrations are stunning. With the large format of a double page spread with which to work, she creates dramatic landscapes and points of view. A beautiful addition to any collection.

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