Rain before rainbow by Smriti Halls
Illus. by David Litchfield. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406382358.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. A girl and her dog sit rather pensively on the front cover, looking forward, seeing a newly formed rainbow peeping through the trees. Light shines around them urging the reader to open the book to see how the story unfolds. The title is repeated on page one, followed by 'clouds before storm' alerting the reader to a rhyming pattern that will entreat them, encouraging them to read on. The dog looks forward, the girl hesitatingly looks behind, but over the page they have a light to guide them as the words tell the reader the 'old day is done'. By now readers will be in tune with the direction the book is taking, that of reminding all readers that there is darkness before morning, and that they must look forward to a brighter day rather than hesitate in the gloom.
With mental health such an issue for adults and children alike, more books are being published which encourage a positive attitude amongst younger readers. This one with its double pages of luminous colours will intrigue readers as they follow the girl's journey from darkness to light, night to morning. The words remind us that there are mountains to cross and journeys to take, decisions to make, and sometimes the dark will be upsetting, with dragons to fight and worries to overcome, there are ways to get over these fears. They can seek out friend and pathways, journeys, maps, ropes to hold on to, and finally a new day will dawn that is full of light and promise. And all of this is brightly reflected in the accompanying colour filled illustrations.
The rhyming pattern will enthral readers as they predict what the rhyming word might be, ready to call out a rhyming word at the end of each page, learn some of the lines to call out when the book is read again. Read out loud or in small groups, the whole will encourage positive attitudes, allowing children to discuss some of their fears, and give them pathways to help themselves maintain hope. Teacher's notes are available.
Themes: Courage, Hope, Mental health, Depression, Friendship.