Richard Jackson and Suzy Lee tap into the truly good things in life in this joyful shimmy through a day with three siblings, their mom, and a sprinkling of neighborhood friends.
It’s full on rain to begin with, but a swizzle of music, the sheer happiness within their hearts, and the downright juiciness of life means a little weather can’t keep these guys down. Out they go to revel in rain. Their exuberance is catchy. Friends come a-running. Soon enough, clouds drift away and a radiant sun splashes their world with warmth and light. It’s a beautiful day, all right.
Jackson’s text pops with joy and movement. Lee’s playful line dances, swishes, stomps, leaps merrily. Her brilliant use of color starts us out with calm, graphite sketchiness, adds spritzes of energizing raindrop-blue, diffuses warm summer-green as the day and action heat up. I adore this book. The outdoor play. The magic of imagination. The relaxed affection. The sheer gleefulness. Picture book perfection for ages 2 and up. Don’t miss it!
Rain, written and illustrated by Sam Usher first U.S. edition 2017 by Templar Books, Candlewick Press
Previously Sam Usher has introduced us to this boy and his granddad in a world blanketed by a mighty snowfall. (Find that review here.)
Today, it’s raining, and once again, this little fellow cannot wait to get out and play in it. To “catch raindrops, splash in puddles, and look at everything upside down.” And once again, Granddad says they’ve got to wait.
Waiting is hard business, and when an epic rainstorm is flooding the world outside your window, forming puddles big as seas, creating watery worlds enchanted as Venice — well, it is very trying. But he is one patient kid.
When Granddad is finally ready to venture out, it’s clear the waiting did not wither our boy’s imagination one bit! What an adventure the two of them have on a simple walk to the postbox! Another blast of imagination and intergenerational companionship from Sam Usher. Vibrant illustrations to linger over and even textured raindrops on the book cover! Ages 2 and up.
The Cow Said Meow, written and illustrated by John Himmelman published in 2016 by Henry Holt and Company
One shrewd cow observes that with merely a “meow” a marmalade cat is welcomed out of the rain and into the snug dry house. Hmm.
Standing there in the driving rain, clearly not amused, the cow gives it a try. “Meow,” says the cow. Bingo! The old lady, whose thick glasses clearly are not helping her see straight, opens the door and ushers Ms. Cow inside, as quick as that.
Next, an alert pig gives it a try. Then an eagle-eyed chicken. How many animals does it take before the cat decides things are out of control? Zany fun for ages 2 and up.
A Rainbow of My Own, written and illustrated by Don Freeman first published in 1966; published by Puffin Books in 1978
Don Freeman’s work has nurtured generations of young children. This one is a gem. I love the vintage feel of not only the images, but also its quiet tone and the independence of the child exploring completely on his own with freedom. There is not a single other human in the story. No supervision and no need for companions, even. This is not something we see very often in more contemporary children’s stories and I miss it.
One little boy is off in pursuit of the rainbow he sees, intent on capturing it. It proves elusive, of course, but a surprise awaits him back in his own room, when sunlight beams through a fishbowl and dazzles him with a rainbow of his own.
Authentic, childlike perspectives, straightforward text, splashes of imagination, and Freeman’s iconic illustrations all make this a winner for ages 2 and older.
Home in the Rain, written and illustrated by Bob Graham published in Australia 2016; first U.S. edition 2017 by Candlewick Press
Quintessential Bob Graham here, with this unusual story witnessing a small miracle on a sodden day. As with any Graham story, it is nearly impossible to encapsulate in a short review. His ability to capture the glory of the ordinary, the rich kernels of human experience, consistently leaves me speechless.
Francie and her mom are driving home from Grandma’s house, their small red car dwarfed by semis, smothered by dark rain clouds, battered by rain.
All around them, unbeknownst to them, living their quiet/loud/still/busy lives, others are experiencing the rain as well, but Francie and Mom are cocooned in their own world in the cab of the car. Francie’s baby sister is there, too, tucked safe inside of mama, waiting to be born. As they chat and munch a packed lunch, Francie wonders what the baby’s name might be. When will she have a name? she asks. Might it be Alice? Or Isabel?
The juxtaposition of a stormy rainswept countryside, the busy push and go surrounding them on the highways and at the gas station, with the private, childlike wonderings and maternal introspection; the flicker of inspiration in this pregnant woman’s heart — it’s so breathtaking and real and ordinary and tender and lovely. If you blink, you’ll miss it. Just like in real life. Another gem to enjoy with ages 5 and older that will speak at least as deeply to adults who read it.