FICTION

The Day the Rain Moved In

Groundwood. Apr. 2021. 32p. tr. from French by Shelley Tanaka . Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781773064819.
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Gr 2-4–A disquieting gloom hangs over this story. Despite the title, readers don’t see the day the rain moves in. It is already raining inside a family’s home even though it is sunny outside. The water gathers in puddles and pools, mildew forms on walls, plant life begins to grow. There is no sense of wonder among the family members as they watch the sprouts and branches and their home becoming a rainforest. Each damp day is met with scowls from the parents and the slouching sadness of the children, who are always in their hooded raincoats. Ashamed, the kids sadly huddle in the corner, walk to school wet and frowning, distance themselves from their peers. Rain often symbolizes depression, and the perpetual rainstorm inside the house evokes a feeling of an entire family’s chronic suffering. But in a nod, perhaps, to pandemic-laced existentialism, the other schoolchildren arrive and enjoy this odd playground, just as the rainforest punctures the house’s walls and roof and the scene becomes quite joyful. Translated from French, matter-of-fact text offers two or three sentences in white space, just outside the illustrations, contrasting with the melancholy of the artwork. Is this a theme of overcoming shame? An oversimplification of family dysfunction?
VERDICT A surreal tale, this may not have enough teeth to ensnare the attention span of more literal-minded young readers.

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