on June 13, 2009
we got this for my kids and their cousin before we moved to seattle, and it turned out to be an incredibly sweet and appropriate book for that move. in the town in the book, it's always rainy, and the people love it. they're startled and afraid when the rains suddenly stop and try all kinds of crazy measures suggested by all kinds of "experts" to get the rain to start. in the end, it is the children who suggest addressing the clouds directly and asking for rain, rather than trying to manipulate them into raining. it reads to me like a parable of joy in nature and weather, and the moral seems to be forthrightness and honesty. we talk a lot to our kids about asking for what they want and need directly instead of trying to make people do what they want through manipulation---which usually others don't understand and resent. the whole story feels dreamy and joyful.
The Happy Rain is a book of reversals, the better to see the truth; and to have a good time doing it. This book was published in 1956, with little to date it. This is Jack's first book. Even his brother is credited as an artist more than author. His artwork is already nicely developed in the faces and in the attitudes of buildings.
The book is not set by Jack anywhere in particular. Raymond and Yolande could be anywhere from Brazil to the Baltic, as could Troekan, their village. It is Maurice that draws it into eastern Europe (pun intended) by virtue of building and costume.
The happy rain is a wondrous rain, not a driving or a frigid one. It is more like a perpetual soothing and gentle mist that keeps everything and everyone. Still, he makes the point that people experience rain as a spoiler.
What if a good thing got so big it became a bad thing? And what if its opposite instead appears?
Well, for one thing a bumbershoot a parasol becomes. And eyes are shut against the sun. And don't you just know it, that kind of scientist who never shares research (is there any to be had?) comes bumbling out of his prison playpen. And just like the hired "scientists" we have gotten used to in the political pig-sty, his answer to the problem is simple - shoot the uncooperative clouds with cannon.
The "philosopher" explained everything to the villagers. In a show of good faith, they even tried his solution, too.
Maurice said his brother was the genius in the family. Most take this as false modesty; but if you have ever listened to Maurice on the subject of honesty, you might think otherwise. Jack is light where his little brother goes grave. Maurice worked blessed hard, and he also had that divine spark just as their grandfather had imparted so long ago.
Although he never suspected, the book is as a terrible double-reversal in the age of global warming. Jack wrote well, dreamed better and made a story for all time. I hope I may have this for my grandchild and they for theirs.
on August 16, 2005
Children will enjoy the funny and imaginative story of a town of Troekan that is so used to rain that when it stops they are just helpless and don't know what to do. The wonderful and yet very simple illustrations complement this humorous story very well, but I just wish there were more of them for the amount of text in the book. The story, although quite lengthy for a picture book, is very well written and engaging and will keep children laughing at the comical slutions that the wise men come up with in order to get the rain back, like everybody having to stand on their head for three days, or shoot cannons at the clouds. In the end it is two children who come up with the solution that works - let the rain know how much they love it!! We will conclude that our preferrences are not necessarily based on reason but on our familiarity with the subject no matter how strange.
on May 30, 2014
My eight-year-old really liked this book, I think because it was atypical of children's books. She didn't like the part about "boys are braver than girls," but it was written in the 1950's so what can you expect. The world is kind of topsy-turvy in this story, which appeals to children. Nice illustrations, too. A keeper.