This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Suzy Lee (9781481441391, Amazon)
Three children are spending a gray day inside as it pours rain. Then they start to dance and twirl, pulling blue into their day. They head outside with umbrellas and boots, walking through puddles, jumping and stomping. The rain ends and other come out with yellow and pink umbrellas and clothes, the colors starting to fill the page. Their umbrellas float up into the sky that is now blue with white clouds. The group of children play together in the field of flowers, climbing trees, rescuing umbrellas, and then treats back at home on a lovely day.
Jackson’s text is filled with motion and rhythm. It invites readers to swirl and twirl with the characters on the page. The action words in the text zing and zip, moving the book forward even as they celebrate the bad weather and move to the sunshine. There is a sense of optimism throughout the book, an acceptance and joy of rainy weather and then a true delight when it becomes sunny later.
Lee’s illustrations are lovely. They use color so skillfully, showing first the gray day while the children are quietly playing alone and then the single swirls of blue that color the children and their clothing. The book slowly unfolds with color, until it bursts like the meadow of flowers and the sun in the trees.
Share this one on rainy and sunny days. Just have umbrellas and boots ready along with popsicles too. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.
Home in the Rain by Bob Graham (9780763692698, Amazon)
Francie and her mother are headed home from Grandma’s house. It rains and rains. It rains enough that a big truck washes their car into a picnic area. Nearby, the rain hits rabbits, mice and a hawk. It rains on fishermen and ducks. Francie and her mother wait in the car, the windows steaming up. Francie writes their names on the windows. She asks her mother what her new baby sister’s name will be when she arrives, but her mother doesn’t know yet. They eat a picnic in the car together and then they pull back onto the road and continue home. When they stop to get gas, Francie’s mother decides on her little sister’s name and the sun returns to light their way home.
Graham has written a lovely picture book that is more complicated than it seems. It is the story of a little red car heading home. It’s the story of a family about to get one person bigger. It is the story of names and inspiration. It’s the story of rain and water and weather. Graham ties all of these elements together into one precious rain-soaked bundle that really works. It is bursting with the love of family on every page.
Graham’s illustrations are done in his signature style. The characters are people of color and their car becomes a haven and a busy room filled with small details. The book then pulls away to the countryside and their small car seen from above. The rain sweeps the pages and the animals appear. The play of close comfort in the car with wide scenery captures the wildness of the storm and strengthens the intimacy of the family.
A special book that looks at those delicate moments before the birth of a new baby, this picture book celebrates family and storms. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Secrets I Know by Kallie George, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (9781101938935, Amazon)
A little girl spends a rainy day playing in her backyard and sharing secrets with the reader. She knows lots of secrets like secrets are for whispering and whispers hide in trees. She uses the tree as an umbrella and then her umbrella as a boat for her toys. She and her puppy play in the sandbox and have a tea party there, the sunshine sweetening the tea. A friend joins her and they play dress up and then head outside to the trees once again when darkness falls and the stars come out.
George writes with a poetic simplicity here. In the little girl’s voice, she chains together the different experiences she is having, each one leading naturally to the next. It’s rather like a daisy-chain of a picture book spent outside and having a wonderful time whether on her own or with a friend.
Zakimi’s illustrations are detailed and filled with warmth. The blustery and rainy day is shown as an opportunity to play outside and have fun, not as anything that limits activities. Even darkness can’t stop the little girl from enjoying herself outdoors as stars fill the sky. The use of just one backyard as the canvas for the day shows how large imagination can be and how much fun can be had.
A simple book with lots of big ideas, this picture book shows how any day can be a special one. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Schwartz & Wade Books.
Rain by Sam Usher (9781783705467, Amazon)
Sam and his Grandpa are spending a rainy day together. Sam wants to head out into the rain, but Grandpa asks that they wait until the rain stops. Sam spends the time reading books, drinking hot chocolate and dreaming of adventures. Meanwhile, Grandpa writes at the table and eventually has a very important letter ready to put in the mail. The rain ends just in time for them to have the adventure together that Sam has been dreaming of.
Usher has combined the tedium of waiting for the weather to change with the pleasure of escape into imagination. Sam waits reluctantly for the weather to change and yet manages to amuse himself without devices or television during the long wait. Merrily, the imagination and reality merge towards the end of the picture book, as Grandpa and Sam float directly into his dreams.
The illustrations are particularly effective. Usher creates a crispness in the interior images, filled with details done in fine lines and bright colors. Through the windows though, readers can see the weather. Outside the streets are awash in smears of light and color, filled with rain and raindrops. There is a real sense of a wash of water happening in the street and the light plays across the puddles realistically and beautifully.
A rainy day book brightened by a fantastic adventure. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Templar Publishing.
Float by Daniel Miyares (InfoSoup)
This wordless picture book has a boy creating a boat from newspapers that he then takes outside. The sky is dark with rain clouds and the boy protects the paper boat from the sudden downpour with his rain slicker. Then he floats the boat in a quiet puddle. When he lets it into the fast flowing water in the gutter, it scoots away from him, across the road, and down into the sewer. The boy goes to a bridge and sees the limp newspaper page come out of the drainpipe into the pond. It is all droopy and limp, just like the disappointed boy. He heads home, gets dried off, has some cocoa, and then it is back to the newspapers, this time to make something for the sunny day outside.
Beautifully paced with luminous illustrations, this wordless picture book is filled with simple pleasures. From experiencing the joy of a good rainstorm to having a paper boat that floats so gracefully, the joy is tangible in the early part of the book. Then with the boat racing away from the boy, the pace quickens and the pages turn faster. Readers will know what is going to happen, but hope and hope that it won’t. But it does. The ending of being warm and dry again, with an adult helping and caring for him, makes for a book that celebrates the freedom of playing alone outside but also the importance of having a loving home to return to.
The illustrations are particularly fine. Gray and misty, they embrace the rain and the weather. The boy is a dart of bright yellow on each page, the boat a mix of pastel blues and pinks that sets it apart as well. There is a strong sense of movement on the page from the falling rain to the rushing water. The endpages of the book have folding instructions for both a boat and a paper plane.
A book about playing outside and the joy of nature, this wordless picture book is perfect for rainy days. Just make sure you have plenty of newspaper around. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Water Is Water: A Book about the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin (InfoSoup)
A poetic look at the various stages of water in the water cycle, this book moves logically from one to the next as water evaporates, condenses and changes. Seen through the lives of two siblings, the book begins with pages where the children are down near the lake and then rain drives them back home. Once home, they get a glass of water then water is boiled for a cup of cocoa out on the porch. Clouds come out in the evening, lit by the setting sun. Then autumn arrives with its foggy school mornings. Rain falls down as the school bus reaches school and then there are puddles to jump in at recess. Winter arrives with ice and snow and then spring returns with more puddles and mud. Apples are picked and turned into cider that the children drink up.
Shown through seasonal changes and a very personal view, this water cycle book makes everything very tangible and real. At the end of the book children can learn more about evaporation, condensation and precipitation which are tied directly to the forms of water that they experienced in the bulk of the book and the story. Keeping the focus on the ways that children themselves experience the water cycle makes this book particularly accessible.
The illustrations by Chin are done in watercolor and gouache. They are filled with nature and beauty from the wonder of the sky in evening to the bright colors of the fall leaves to the brisk cool colors of winter. The illustrations capture the beauty of weather and forms of water in a vivid way.
A dynamic and personal book about what can be an abstract theory, this book on the water cycle is exactly the sort of science book that will inspire additional investigation in the world and science. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.
The Question of Miracles by Elana K. Arnold
Iris and her family have just moved to Corvallis, Oregon where Iris longs for sunshine and warm weather but is constantly faced with falling rain. Iris is struggling with the death of her best friend and has very little interest in making new friends or exploring her new town. Iris meets Boris and the two slowly become friends despite the fact that Boris is a messy eater, breaths through his mouth all the time, and wants Iris to play Magic all the time. But Boris is also fascinating to Iris because his birth could have been a real miracle that the Vatican is investigating. Iris wants to know how some people get miracles and others don’t. And what’s with the haunting presence she feels in the cupboard under the stairs where her best friend’s tennis racket rests? Is it possible that there is another miracle about to happen and Iris will be able to contact her friend?
Arnold does a simply beautiful job of writing this novel. Her crafting of Iris’ world and family is done with a gentleness and detail that is inspired. And through it all, readers will feel the chill of the constantly falling rain, the loneliness of the tennis racket under the stairs, and the sorrow that leads Iris to fall asleep early often. Arnold also shows in imagery over and over again the impermanence of things. From snow angels that are stepped on to eggs that don’t hatch, she crafts moments of fragility that show the uncertainty of life.
At the same time, she uses intense moments of comfort and being together with others that are warming and stand brightly against the cold wet weather that Iris finds herself trapped in. Those moments show such hope for Iris in a way that is tangible and realistic. Arnold also allows readers to see Oregon through Iris’ eyes for the most part. While there are these moments of light and warmth, snacks and hot chocolate, readers will start to see the beauty of Oregon and the wonder of the rain only when Iris herself starts to lift out of grief. The entire process is done over time and very realistically.
Beautiful writing that is poetic and filled with imagery yet easy to read and understand, this book will speak to fans of Kevin Henkes. Appropriate for ages 9-12
Reviewed from library copy.
Rain by Carol Thompson
Snow by Carol Thompson
Sun by Carol Thompson
Wind by Carol Thompson
Four lovely little board books in this set by Thompson. Told very simply but with plenty of energy, these books look at different kinds of weather and children out playing in it. Rain begins with a bit of hesitation but ends with the merry fun of jumping into puddles. Snow invites children to breathe out clouds and plunk right down in the snow. Sun has clothes coming off and playing in a pool together. Wind roars from page to page but then in the end is gentle too.
Introduce toddlers to different kinds of weather and different seasons, but even more importantly get them outside to experience it themselves too! Appropriate for ages 1-2.
Reviewed from copies received from Child’s Play.
Little Bird Takes a Bath by Marisabina Russo
Little Bird hates the rain and it was raining on his nest high above the city. The next morning though, the rain was gone and it was a lovely day. It was the perfect day for a bath! But the trouble was finding the right puddle. Some puddles were too big, some too small, and others were too crowded with other bathers. Then Little Bird found just the right puddle on a path in the park. But over and over again he got interrupted during his bathing. There was a bouncing ball, a little girl in flip flops, and a dog. By the time they had all gone through his puddle, it was far too small to bathe in. Little Bird flew up above the city, then spotted a fountain that looked like it was just the right size for a little bird.
Russo’s picture book is gentle and echoes traditional stories. She incorporates repetition and the mirroring of Goldilocks finding things that were “just right” adds much to the story. As the different things interrupt Little Bird’s bath, they are shown by the noise they make and then the reader turns the page to see what is making that noise. This little touch makes the book more dynamic and interactive for young listeners.
Russo’s art is just as inviting as the story she weaves. She makes sure that readers know that this is a city bird both in the text and the illustrations. Her images move from close ups of Little Bird to most distant images of the cityscape and how Little Bird flies across it. This change of scale makes the book interesting and children will enjoy seeing the path of Little Bird as he locates puddles and fountains in the city.
A great pick for rainy read alouds, this book will be welcome at toddler and preschool story times. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Schwartz & Wade.