CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 16. . . .December 18, 2015
Once Upon a Rainy Day.
…douard Manceau. Translated by Susan Ouriou & Christelle Morelli.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
Kindergarten-grade 5 / Ages 5-10.
Review by Stephanie Johnson.
This is the story of a story that starts over every day, each morning the same way.
Mr. Warbler, the keeper of this story, is about to step outside his cottage in his fine feathered suit. Just as the sun rises, he will head slowly and surely down the blue path leading to the forestÖthe same path that leads straight to the home of the Big Bad Wolf, a black, hairy half-monster with pointed ears, long teeth, a cold wet nose, and a lolling tongue.
Every morning, Mr. Warbler wakes up the Big Bad Wolf with ten quick raps and three long knocks on his heavy wooden door. Thatís when the Big Bad Wolf appears, and his day can begin.
But today itís raining. So Mr. Warbler doesnít venture outside, and the Big Bad Wolf sleeps in.
As the story continues, the Big Bad Wolf rushes over to Oscarís house, Oscar being ďa delectable pigĒ, and a grand chase commences. Oscar runs off to a friendís house, and together they escape the Big Bad Wolf and head to another friendís house. The chase goes on, and readers are introduced to numerous friends of Oscar, all with quirky personalities and who live in amazing homes with fantastical details. When the Big Bad Wolf is blasted into a cabbage patch, the day ends so that the chase may begin again tomorrow.
Once Upon a Rainy Day is a picture book that one does not come across every day. Its style calls into question the typical storytelling paradigms that are present in most picture books: images telling the same story that the text does. In Manceauís book, his vibrant, detailed illustrations only construct the setting of the story, with all of the characters and action being left out. What this creates is a new storytelling experience, one which actively forces readers and listeners to construct their own version of the story using their imagination: an experience which will surely inspire new ways of storytelling and listening. While this style might not be for everyone, the stunning illustrations with their bright colours and fanciful shapes and designs are sure to garner appreciation from any reader.
Once Upon a Rainy Day has many potential uses: it could simply be read at storytime; it could allow the reader to interact with the audience in a more active manner; discussions could be had on the purpose of the book; or an art program could be created with it. These infinite possibilities make it a picture book relevant to a wide range of ages, and people who will all be able to appreciate its innovative style.
Stephanie Johnson is a graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies Program from the University of Alberta.
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