Singing in the Rain
Based on the song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. Illustrated by Tim Hopgood
Oxford University Press
32pp, £12.99, hardback
It was an appropriately wet and blustery day when I read this picture book with our Reception class. The children were instantly engaged by the vibrant and colourful cover illustration – and some members of the group recognised the title as being that of a song that they had heard. Everyone was very eager to read on.
The story begins in a rainy street. Adult readers will immediately spot the references to the famous Gene Kelly film sequence. This time, though, it is a little girl who is singing to us as she twirls merrily around a lamppost.
The illustrator captures the dark skies and the movement of falling raindrops perfectly. As we read on, this rainy backdrop is lit up spectacularly with a growing band of smiling children clad in bright raincoats and wellies, all having a marvellous time. There are no adults to be seen – and we all agreed that adults tend to be much less keen on the rain than children. What a wonderfully positive take on having fun in the rain! Perhaps we could all learn something from these intrepid puddle-splashers?
We wondered where the children were headed as they drifted happily away through the clouds, carried by their umbrellas and propelled by the wind. Then there was a murmur of recognition as we all saw that they had landed far, far away in a wonderfully exotic rainforest landscape.
Making everyone smile
We had lots of fun spotting the different jungle animals that, like the children in the story, were also having a wonderful time in the rain. There would definitely be plenty of scope for discussing similarities and differences between our own climate, environment and native animals with those of other countries.
Marni and Niamh loved the depiction of the rainforest. Robin enjoyed spotting the toucans in the trees and Raife liked the parrots in particular. For Henry, the highlight was seeing “the bit where the children flyyyyyyy!” Ottilie remarked that she enjoyed seeing everyone “smiling because of the rain”.
The story certainly made everyone smile on this rainy day. Reception were unanimous in recommending this story to other young readers.
This book also contains a CD of the well-known song, sung by Doris Day. So, after reading the story once to my group, we then played the song as we looked again at all the pictures. The children were instantly captivated by the combination of music and illustration.
Tim Hopgood does a magnificent job of blending the two media, reflecting the musical aspect throughout the story as we follow the bright trail of notes that Ottilie picked up on immediately: “There is beautiful music because she is singing.”
The book and CD also offer a rich resource for further activities. We are sure to make good use of it for our “weather” topic.
Finally, we took the opportunity to express our own joy about rainy weather by dancing around the library to Doris Day, pretending to splash in puddles and flying through the clouds with our imaginary umbrellas. What a glorious feeling to end our storytime.
Review by Reception class at King’s Hall Pre-Prep, Taunton, Somerset, with the assistance of school librarian Emily Marcuccilli