Raymond Raindrop and Swings and Things

18 December 2019

Raymond Raindrop and Swings & Things
Written and illustrated by Eileen Munro
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$12.95 ISBN 9-781988-783444

I was introduced to the fun-filled illustrations and down-home text of Saskatchewan artist Eileen Munro in 2014 via her rural-themed alphabet book, ABC’s Down on the Farm. Now, five years later, she’s followed up with another picture book, this time featuring two educational stories: Raymond Raindrop and Swings & Things. Munro’s cover advertises “Facts and fun – 2 Books in 1” – it’s a double treat for young readers and story listeners, and an ingenious way for a writer using YNWP’s excellent publishing services to get the most bang for her buck.

As the title reveals, Raymond is a raindrop, which Munro visually presents somewhat like a grey Hershey’s Kiss with simple facial features, three-fingered white hands and two black ovaline feet. Raymond’s character, however, is far from simple. “Shy and a little bit proud,” he “stayed by himself” while his fellow raindrops “bounced and bubbled” together. Our watery protagonist notes that the people on the land below him look worried re: the lack of rain for their crops.

The story is about the importance of working together. The prairie spirit of cooperation is equally as important among the raindrops as it is has traditionally been among farming communities. On each pair of facing pages Munro provides one fact about rain, ie: “Every second, about 16 million tons of water evaporates from the Earth’s surface and falls back to the ground in the form of raindrops.” It’s a creative way to teach youngsters, and as these facts are visually separated from the story proper via a light blue text box, there’s no confusing the two.

Swings & Things is subtitled Everyday Pendulums and Pivots, and it features ponytailed Henrietta, who “likes to swing,” and “to find other things that swing too”. As with the first story, this short tale also includes interesting and eclectic facts – about pendulums, spiders, monkeys, and more – presented in textboxes.

We discover that Henrietta loves to see the acrobats swing at the circus, and she aspires to become an acrobat one day. On this page I learned that the stretchy leotard gymnasts – and others – wear was named after the “French gymnast Jules Léotard, who developed the art of trapeze”. It’s the kind of trivia you could slip into a conversation at the next dinner party you attend, and then you can gift your host or hostess with a copy of this delightful, colourful and well-produced book, because we all have someone in our life who can use a small, happy story.

Congratulations to Munro, who “came from a family of storytellers who told tales that wove a path through her imagination,” for putting her own storytelling talents onto the page for others to enjoy. Raymond Raindrop. Henrietta, in her red pinafore, who loves things that swing. Two “simple stories for small scientists,” as is stated on the back cover. I wonder what kinds of characters will spill from Munro’s imagination in her next book, and what readers will learn along the way.


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