In rhymes and books for children, rain tends to be a source of ennui or disappointment – an unwelcome event requiring the rejigging of plans. Rain is commanded to go away and come again another (preferably endlessly deferred) day. In Kyo Maclear and Chris Turnham’s second collaboration, Hello Rain!, though, a sudden deluge triggers a mood that’s decidedly half-full, instead of half-empty.
“The air is full of waiting,” reads the captivating opening line. As a girl and her dog gaze out the window of their house, they are dwarfed by a big, restless sky. A page later, the sensory focus switches as tentative raindrops play a tune on the roof and metal mailbox. Undaunted by the weather, the pair suit up in galoshes and raincoats (the pup has them too!) and head outside. Pointed toward the reader, their giant, multi-hued umbrella looks more like a beach ball. The implication is clear: who needs sand and sun to have a good time?
On a street crowded with pedestrians under less ebullient umbrellas, our companions wonder what all the hurry is about. Here, observation turns to wordplay: “Deluge, downpour, sprinkle, storm, a drizzle, a mizzle.” Turnham’s mid-century-inspired illustrations, with their soft, secondary palette of downbeat oranges, ochres, greens, and mauves (think Margaret Bloy Graham’s artwork in Gene Zion’s Harry the Dirty Dog series) beautifully complement this endlessly fluid world.
Later, the urban environment morphs into a natural one teeming with frogs, worms, and squirrels. Images of “thirsty roots” are followed by the lines: “Plums in the fridge, sweet and cold. One for you. One for me.” We never see the plums or the fridge. Is the little girl planning to eat them when she gets home? Is the dog “you”? Do dogs like plums? It doesn’t matter. What delights is the juxtaposition and freewheeling association (“Cool rain. Fresh rain”), the sense of plenty, and the spirit of sharing.
Lightning drives our heroes inside, but only for a beat. When they re-emerge, it’s to a world brimming with new life. There are flowers “ripe and rosy” and mushrooms “plump and proud,” and yes, sun. Hello, Rain! is a warm, affable story that invites rereadings and engages the senses.