Grandma used to say to Felix that the sun always shines after the rain and that after every uphill climb there’s a downhill stroll.
Felix is a deeply unhappy boy, who drags around a large suitcase wherever he goes. Unbeknownst to him, the negative situations and emotions he experiences in life are hidden in the case. And as it grows more burdensome, Felix is desperate to cast it to one side. One day, Felix manages to climb to the top of a hill. There, a younger boy opens the case and all the darkness and hurt come gushing out.
Felix After the Rain addresses a complex and important subject with simple language and evocative illustrations that will appeal to young children. Olivia Hellewell’s translation from the original Slovenian flows smoothly from one page to the next, while author Dunja Jogan’s choice of color palette cleverly mirrors Felix’s emotional state. Dark shades dominate the first part of the story, replaced by spring pastel hues as Felix reconnects with the beauty of the world around him.
Too often and for a variety of reasons, children and adults conceal difficult emotions from others (and themselves), and then struggle with the burden of carrying them alone. This book can help promote discussion about mental health with all readers, especially young children. Felix’s glorious catharsis atop the hill is a reminder of the importance of opening up and the joy that results from setting oneself free. True to his grandma’s words, the stroll down to his family and friends, minus his suitcase, is far easier than his climb. And there’s sunshine in his soul.
Originally published in Slovenian under the title Srečkov kovček (Lucky Suitcase) by Založba Zala.
Felix After the Rain
Written and illustrated by Dunja Jogan
Translated from Slovenian by Olivia Hellewell
2020, Tiny Owl
Awards: Winner English PEN Award
You can read my interview with publisher Delaram Ghanimifard about the story behind this picture book’s publication on the GLLI blog.
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT and IBBY Australia. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com