Home in the Rain, by Bob Graham

“My little sister.
What will her name be, Mummy?”
“Well, she’s not quite with us yet,” said Mum.
“But when will she have a name, Mummy?” said Francie.
“Soon,” said Mum. “Sometime soon.”

It’s a very wet day, and Francie and Mum have a long drive home from Grandma’s house. Stuck in the rain, Francie has lots of time to wonder what her new baby sister will be called and, just before the weather clears, Mum finds a name that seems just right.

Home In The Rain is a beautiful slice of life book from master picture book creator Bob Graham. While the trip is long and the rain is heavy, nothing world-changing occurs – but this makes what does happen – the choosing of a baby’s name – monumental.

Bob Graham’s portrayal of both the heavy rain storm and its effect on the traffic, people and animals, as well as of the little world inside Francie and Mum’s car, is divine. WHile this is chiefly a story about the latter, the detail of the former adds interest and humour and highlights the way life goes on around the little family. Younger children will enjoy the detail and older children will spot layers of meaning, and enjoy the use of light, colour and persepctive. Even the name chosen for the baby, Grace, is connected to the rain through a John Updike quote on the dedication page.


Home In The Rain, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2016
ISBN 9781406368239

Shadowcat by Julia Louise ill Anne Ryan

Edith worried she might be turning into a garden gnome.

Every day she sat alone, as still as a statue.

Sometimes she sat for so long that the grass grew

past her nose to tickle her eyelashes.

ShadowcatEdith worried she might be turning into a garden gnome.

Every day she sat alone, as still as a statue.

Sometimes she sat for so long that the grass grew

past her nose to tickle her eyelashes.

Edith is feeling blue. Since the arrival of her new baby brother, it seems that everything she does is wrong. She is sure no one will miss her if she turns into a garden gnome. Then she meets Shadowcat. Shadowcat can tell that Edith has stopped dreaming. Shadowcat reminds Edith how to find joy in simple things. While Shadowcat is there, Edith regains her joyfulness and dreaming. When Shadowcat is gone, Edith must learn to rely on herself to remember how to dance. Illustrations are painted in stain-glass window colours, warm and rich.

Edith feels left out now her family has grown to include a little brother. She is depressed, gradually closing down until she feels almost unable to do anything. The gnome-state is where she’s headed without intervention. Lucky for her, Shadowcat arrives. Childhood depression is increasing and Julia Louise’s Shadowcat offers an accessible text to explore this clinical and crippling sadness with young readers. Anne Ryan’s artwork is stunning, colourful and empathetic. Ideal for parents and teachers wanting to introduce and support feelings. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Shadowcat, Julia Louise ill Anne Ryan
Five Mile Press 2015
ISBN: 9781760067090

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller


Lilli-Pilli's Sister, by Anna Branford, illustrated by Linda Catchlove

“I’m definitely going to have a sister. I can feel it in my wings.”

Lilli-Pilli is very excited. Mum is going to have a new baby, and Lilli-Pilli is sure it will be a sister. But as she helps to collect soft things for the baby’s cradle, her friends and family remind her that the baby could actually be a brother. Lilli-Pilli says she doesn’t mind, but could her senses be wrong? When she returns home, there is a surprise waiting for he r- in fact two surprises. She has a baby sister and a baby brother.

Lilli-Pilli’s Sister is a delightful story about new siblings, friendship and family. Lilli-Pilli and her parents are beautifully contemporary fairies, living in an Australian bush setting. Illustrations are whimsical but not saccharine, in watercolour suitable for the gentle nature of the story.

Suitable for any fairy-loving youngster.

Lilli-Pilli’s Sister, by Anna Branford & Linda Catchlove
Walker Books, 2014
ISBN 9781921977589

Available from good bookstores and online.