The Biggest Puddle in the World by Mark Lee, illustrated by Nathalie Dion (9781554989799)
A little girl and her brother Charlie were staying with their grandparents for six days. On the first day, the spent time exploring the big old house. Then it started to rain. It rained the entire second day, as they continued to explore the house. It rained the entire third day, which they spent playing dress-up. The girl asked her grandfather, Big T, where the rain comes from. He promised to show her when the rain stopped and when they had found the biggest puddle. The next day, the sun was out and the children joined their grandfather outside. On their walk to find the biggest puddle, they explored small puddles, a stream, a pond and finally found the sea! Along the way, their grandfather explained the water cycle with evaporation, the clouds, rain and bodies of water.
Lee combines a science lesson with a fictional picture book very successfully here. The initial story of children visiting grandparents is filled with lovely moments of play and connection. The children may be bored at times, but they also find ways to spend their time even as rain comes down all around the house. When the sun returns, the world opens up to them and their adventures becomes less imagination and more real. The facts shared about the water cycle are shown as part of their walk and a natural conversation. Dion’s illustrations are light and filled with a sense of movement and air. The gray rainy days spent inside contrast beautifully with the sunshine of the outdoor pages.
A quiet picture book about family, weather and water. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Groundwood Books.
Rain by Anders Holmer (9780802855077)
Haiku tells the story of different types of rain in this poetry picture book. The haiku are all about nature, some about rain directly and others about other things like falling newspapers or cascading petals. The poems form a series of vignettes that show different parts of the world and various environments from the arctic to the Himalayas to the desert. They are bound together with the rhythms of the poems and the journey together to explore rain and our world.
The haiku poems range from solemn to merry, some carrying serious weight and others lighter. They mirror the weather, some with lightning and dark clouds while others fill with pink petals and friendship. The illustrations themselves are large and have the feel of traditional tales mixed with a modern edge. They show different parts of the world and take readers on a fascinating journey as rain descends on each page and yet each type of rain is different from the others.
A skilled book of haiku that explores our wide world and the nature we find there. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
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.