Inspiring Young Readers
Sunday Rain by Rosie J. Pova and Amariah Rauscher
The cover of this enchanting new picture book shows two young children playing with a boat in a puddle, clearly unbothered by what looks like rather ploppy rain. After all, puddles are no problem if you are wearing splendid wellies with sharks on and a substantial umbrella keeps away the worst of the wetness. The message is clear from the outset as the children and the cat gaze at the boat – this is a story about focussing on what looks like fun opportunities that the rain can bring.
There is a special atmosphere about a rainy grey Sunday that is well captured from the first page of the story. Elliot lies on his bed with the cat, happily reading his book when he hears loud noises coming from outside the window. I like the way in which we then see the perspective from inside and outside the window as the increasingly stormy weather whooshes and booms. Taking refuge in his book again, Elliot begins to experience something magical, because stories can transport children anywhere, never mind the weather. The first double page spread carries him beyond the book, with the dragon and princess characters, into a thrilling story about a boat on the stormy sea.
As the noisy storm subsides, he hears laughter and goes to look out of the window again. He is lucky enough to have a Mama who is very keen to let him go to play outside with the children. We can see that they have recently moved to the obviously urban area as she is busy unpacking. Making new friends isn’t always easy and we can feel his trepidation as he steps outside, wearing sensible waterproof clothes, and looks across longingly at two children jumping in a big puddle:
‘Outside smelled like wet grass and flowers and the pages of a new book’.
He is a resourceful boy whose enthusiasm for playing with his boat soon attracts attention from the children. Together, they use the power of their imagination to row the boat down the street. When they reach a magical island, they meet the dragon again and manage to outwit it so that they can land safely. There they meet the princess and play together happily.
This had strong echoes of ‘Time to get out of the Water Shirley’ by John Burningham and many other of his picture books that emphasise the power of imagination. With no adults in sight, Elliot can explore and experience the wonders of the island and ordinary pleasures like catching raindrops on his tongue. After sailing home, rather like Max from of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak, he can then enjoy the special warmth and reassuring comfort of home where a delicious stew is waiting to be eaten.
It is clear that Elliot is an avid reader and everyone knows that reading lots of wonderful books can allow children to be inspired to travel and have exciting adventures. On a rainy Sunday, this is especially important. I love the way in which this message is reinforced at the beginning and the end of the story where we see him curled up in bed with his book and the cat having resolved any problems:
‘The princess befriended the dragon and saved the kingdom’.
As with all good picture books, the generous, softly coloured illustrations work perfectly to complement the text. This is a story that allows children to ask questions, speculate and relate to their own experiences. As such it is strongly recommended to be shared and enjoyed at home and at school.