There Is a Rainbow by Theresa Trinder, pictures by Grant Snider

 

There Is a Rainbow 
pictures by Grant Snider
Review Copy from Chronicle Books

There have been a handful of picture books about the pandemic published in the last year and I have avoided reading all of them. And I almost passed on There Is a Rainbow, but there was something about Snider's warm, childlike illustrations that drew me in and made me want to keep turning the pages, and I'm so happy I did. In fact, I read There Is a Rainbow out loud to my daughter's second grade class - via Zoom - today. They have yet to set foot inside their classroom this school year and I'm not sure if they will.

Trinder's text is poetically sparse, broad but inclusive, and ultimately hopeful, providing the perfect frame for Snider to create his illustrations within. Trinder likens our pandemic year (plus) to a story - every story has "a beginning and an end." From the first page, where we see a dark skinned boy and a red haired girl drawing a rainbow together with sidewalk chalk, Trinder's words are reassuring. Capturing the way worlds narrowed as we worked to stay safe, Trinder writes, "There is a here. There is a there. / And there is something in between. / On the other side of the screen." Snider's illustration shows the girl t home, computer on lap, pencil in hand, waving at her gallery-view classmates. Snider has clearly witnessed distance learning, based on his illustration of this Zoom class that shows one student holding up a dog, another with a younger sibling, one upside down and a few off center.

After getting over the absolute novelty of seeing a student engaged in distance learning, I was able to take in the rest of this story which follows the friends, separated from each other and loved ones like grandparents, as they cope with the changes to their lives. A sidewalk scene shows messages on the pavement (BLACK FUTURES MATTER, We got this!, THANK YOU HEROES), masks on adults and rainbows in windows. Letters are mailed and phone calls are made as we see the boy learning to connect with loved ones in new ways.

The final pages return to reassuring readers that, on "the other side of sadness / there are hugs." Just like, "on the other side of a storm / there is a rainbow." There Is a Rainbow ends, "On the other side of today / there is tomorrow," the final illustration showing happy children and parents, mask-free, walking toward school, the marquee out front reading, "WE MISSED YOU."

Inspired by her personal experience with her children and the kid-created rainbows that started popping up in windows all over the world last year when the lockdowns started, Trinder and Snider have beautifully, if achingly, captured aspects of this strange, difficult time and created a book that speaks to us now but will also evoke, in years to come, the myriad feelings experience during the pandemic.

In recognition of their work supporting the COVID-19 response, a donation has been made to global non-profit organization Project Hope.


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