Review Blog

Oct 25 2016

Home in the rain by Bob Graham

cover image

Walker Books, 2016. ISBN 9781406368239
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Families, Relationships, Rain, Home. This story of family and home replicates themes Graham has always used, ones which are persistently asked for by readers of all ages, ones picked up eagerly when seen in the library, classroom or shop. My now 35 year old son was not a reader, but when a book seller came to town and set up his display, my son ran to the Bob Graham books, recognising their familiarity, grabbing them with a please buy these for me look to his parents, and sitting down to read in the shop.
This will be just as eagerly sought by younger readers, as Francie and her mum and only just showing new baby sister drive home from Grandma's house in the teeming rain. They are caught between huge lorries plying the motorway, one of which pushes their little red car onto the verge. In the parking bay they take a rest from the incessant rain and traffic, and eat the lunch that grandma made for them. After drawing her family's names on the windows Francie asks her mum about her new baby sister. She is interested in what this new baby will be called. Mum tells her that no name has been chosen, but when an idea comes she will know. They go on their way, with the rain and then hail still making their journey difficult. At a service station, mum has an idea about a name, and so Francie is able to write that name on the car's window, just as she did with her own and her parents.
Bob Graham has the ability to make a small moment one of significance and portent. A child and her mother deciding on a new name for a baby sister is full of significance for this small family, with their father working away from home and grandma also living far away. It will not have been noticed by any other person but for this family, it is remarkable. And this is reflected in the beautiful drawings, as the sun comes out guiding their way back home.
Graham uses his masterful technique to bring the feeling of their journey to life, as they are squeezed between the many trucks on the highway, slowed by the rain, shown in large white lines across most of the pages. Their small car is diminished by the stream of trucks, but it stands out in the sea of grey, while the edges of the pages and the highway are tinged with blackberry bushes and small animals, bringing the countryside into view. Each page offers a perspective to think about: the highway signs pointing to home, the sweets found in the car pockets, mum kicking off her shoes to rest, the other people at the service station, the view of the oil rig out to sea, perhaps showing us where dad works. I love every page and all who pick up this book will too.
Fran Knight

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