Smitri Halls (text) and David Litchfield (illustrator), Rain Before Rainbows, Walker Books, September 2020, 32 pp., RRP $27.99 32 (hbk), ISBN 9781406382358
From two prize-winning creators, this is a deeply beautiful book making a determined bid to bring home to its readers the message that all troubles are part of a world of change, and that if we can hold on long enough to embrace the mercies change brings, we will find that after rain comes rainbows, after night comes day, and in trouble friends arrive. Of course such a message could be trite, and even needlessly dismissive of suffering. But this book takes its time, entrusts its message to the images of a poem, and is so wonderfully illustrated that one can’t help but be taken into the world of the young girl and her fox as they move through imagined landscapes composed in collage, chalk, etched images and rich washes of colour.
Each page has only a few words, inviting a silent contemplation of the two-page spread of each illustration as the meanings of the words reverberate. This might be the needed comfort read for a child who has encountered trouble of one kind or another or has been witness to the troubles of others. Somehow the book is both magical and real, both full of imagination and full of life as well. It is an admirable achievement and a text that will be worthy of any prize that comes its way. Recommended for children three to ten.
Reviewed by Kevin Brophy