Wednesday, April 3, 2019


By Hyewon Yum
(Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2016)

Ugh, rain.

It can feel so restricting. Often, the first thought for a child is, Now I’ll have to stay inside.It’s a thought reinforced by many a parent or teacher. After all, the child will get all wet and will traipse back inside with mud on his shoes or boots. 

Rain means wet which means mess.

A pouty, arms-crossed boy begins this story with a familiar refrain:

I hate rainy days.
There’s nothing to do. 
I can’t go to the playground.
I can’t play soccer.
I can’t ride my bike!

Anyone knows that not being able to do a choice activity only makes a person want to do it more. And leads to a sulky, miserable state of mind.

The boy’s mom suggests that they draw together. Fat chance. Sulky, miserable individuals are prone to shooting down every idea. 

Mom draws an umbrella and the curious boy gets pulled in. He draws himself holding the umbrella and then Mom and son take turns drawing as well as talking. (The mother’s words are in red italics, the boy’s in standard black.)

Eventually the two of them head outside with Billy, the family dog, for some real fun in the rain. Indeed, why stay indoors!

My one quibble with the book involves the illustrations. The boy draws his character while the mother draws herself. There’s too much detail in the young boy—stripes on the pants; five fingers per hand, four when the thumb can’t be seen while it holds the umbrella. (Presumably, the mother adds color to his cheeks and nose.) It would be more playful to see a greater contrast in the drawn characters, with Yum adopting a simpler style for the boy, the way Oliver Jeffers and David Shannon draw. 

Still, Puddlereminds children (and adults) how rain can bring a different kind of outdoor fun, with the right gear and perhaps a towel or well-placed mat waiting by the door when it’s finally time to come back inside.

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