Cori Brooke (text), Megan Forward (illus.) All I Want for Christmas is Rain, New Frontier Publishing, Nov 2016, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 978125059717
All I Want for Christmas is Rain is the story of an Australian farmers’ daughter who asks Santa for rain during a drought.
The pictures are beautiful – somewhat in the impressionist style – with the overwhelming use of shades of brown to show the lack of life and a feeling of hopelessness. There is also a nod to the painting Down on his Luck with the farmer sitting down, slightly bent over and supporting his head, although this farmer has the comfort of his dog. My favourite illustration, however, is that of the rain falling.
The heroine, Jane, a blonde pig-tailed little girl in overalls says:
‘Hello, Santa,’ I said, ‘My name is Jane.
I live in a farm. My wish is for rain.
Our dams are dry and our pastures are brown.
This big lack of rain has got us all down.’
I was a little disturbed about the implication that Santa could bring about a change in weather. Although, the Santa in the book merely says ‘I will see what I can do’, three to six year olds, the intended audience, do believe he can work miracles. A department store Santa I know reports that he has been asked for everything from world peace to high grades when one tiny requester reached year 12. When he was asked for miracles or things that were obviously out of the child’s parents’ ability to provide, he always said he would pray about it. I know we are reading about imaginary characters, but I would have been more comfortable if the Santa in this story replied in a similar vein.
Reviewed by Katy Gerner