Picture Book Snob
A beam of hope in challenging times
The World Made a Rainbow by Michelle Robinson and Emily Hamilton
"Let's paint a big rainbow to put on display. When people pass by it and see it, they'll say, 'All rainstorms will end, and this rainstorm will too.'" While the whole world stays home, a family makes a rainbow for their window, to raise their spirits and those of anyone who sees it. As they paint and collect materials for a collage, the family recalls past adventures and discusses the new memories they'll make when "the world mends." They talk about the people they miss and find new ways to connect with them, grateful to "still have each other when this rainstorm ends."
This bright and cheerful book is just as beautiful and uplifting as a real rainbow. The story never explicitly mentions Covid-19 but its characters appear to be experiencing a lockdown. We got this last month and have been reading it both prior to and during the latest lockdown in Ireland (which began two weeks ago). While it's perfect for reading during coronavirus restrictions, this wonderful, hopeful book can be enjoyed in any circumstances.
The World Made a Rainbow is a gorgeous celebration of the comfort that can be derived from creativity and art. This story gently highlights the importance of human connections, accepting imperfections, and appreciating what you have rather than focusing on what's absent. When the little girl sees her friend through windows instead of in person she says, “It's fine. Not perfect - but neither's my rainbow. So what? I'm perfectly happy with all that I've got."
A storm that precedes a rainbow is a fantastic metaphor for life during and post-Covid. The children's mother tells them, "the light couldn't shine if it never knew dark. And rainbows can't colour the world without rain." I love how the story says "when the world mends" when referring to life after everything goes back to normal. It's so apt and yet not a phrase that had occurred to me before. It's great to see diversity in the ethnicities of the characters and children in wheelchairs are represented too.
Michelle Robinson is a prolific author who wrote her first story at the age of five and has published more than 40 children's books. We have How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth and A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting. Although the tone is very different and far more humorous, they are brilliant too and I definitely need more books by this writer.
Emily Hamilton's illustrations are fabulous; they're gentle and child-like, incredibly lively and so colourful. Emily's work has appeared in books, magazines, on cards, fabric and the occasional surfboard and wall. Emily has also illustrated Betty Binoculars by Suzie Laverty. I was intrigued after seeing images from this on Emily's Instagram page and have ordered a signed copy from Dudley Doodle Books, I'll share a review when it arrives.
I wasn't aware of this at the time, but during the first lockdown, children all over the UK were making rainbows for their windows. It may have happened here in Ireland too but I didn't notice it in my own neighbourhood, and I took a break from social media and news reports from March - July in an effort to remain calm. It's a lovely idea and a project we might undertake ourselves while we are confined to our own home (need to take down the Halloween decorations first!).
The World Made a Rainbow is extremely positive, but also explores negative emotions and challenging aspects of life during lockdown, achieving an excellent balance between both. Despite delivering an important message, it never feels heavy-handed or forced. The subtext flows as naturally through the story as a beam of light through a prism. An ideal book for reassuring children and helping them make sense of these strange times, filled with wisdom that could be applied to many adverse situations.
For every copy of The World Made a Rainbow sold in the UK, at least 80p will go to the Save the Children Fund, a charity whose mission is to ensure every child is safe, healthy and reaches their full potential.
Title: The World Made a Rainbow
Author: Michelle Robinson Illustrator: Emily Hamilton
Publication Date: September 2020