Review: When It Rains by Rassi Narika

Oh no, its raining! Again. 
Why does it have to rain everyday?
I wanna go outside.
When will it stop?

If you have a young one complaining incessantly about a downpour, you’ll enjoy reading Rassi Narika’s picture book When It Rains. It follows the Dora-esque* journey of Kira and her friends through a rainy day, showing that when rightly spent, even a rainy day can be the most fun-tastic of all.

When the story opens, Kira is frustrated at all the things she can’t do because of rain: she can’t play in the park, she can’t read outside, she can’t even wear the clothes of her choice. But things change when one day, her friends Ana and Ilo invite her to explore the rain. Outside in the rain, they meet new friends and discover all sorts of things, like what umbrellas look like from the top of a building, and why standing in the middle of the field with a long iron pole is such a bad idea. However, most importantly, they learn that friendship brings its own warmth on the rainiest of days.

I am generally wary of translations when it comes to picture books, but Ikhda Ayuning, Maharsi Degoul and Emma Wright have done a really good job of preserving the original feel and rhythm of the Indonesian story, with the usage of the words Ibu and Bapak for Mum and Dad perhaps the only reminders of the book’s foreign origin. There are also opportunities for young readers to actively engage with the illustrations as the narrator occasionally invites us to look for specific details in the visual text. A map included at the end of the text can encourage children as a retelling prompt. My only wish was that the words of the song in the story had been provided in the original language, perhaps paired with a QR code that would enable us to listen to and sing along with the song. Overall though, this is a very sweet tale of a rainy day well spent that leaves nothing else to be desired.

*Dora the explorer

When It Rains
Story and Illustrations by Rassi Narika
Translated from the Indonesian by Ikhda Ayuning, Maharsi Degoul and Emma Wright
2019, The Emma Press
ISBN 9781910139639

Review by Rabaha Arshad

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