I’ve read a number of memorable books where the narrator is a very young child (Room by Emma Donoghue immediately springs to mind) but none quite as lovely as Claire King’s The Night Rainbow , narrated by five-year-old Pea.
Read the blurb for The Night Rainbow and you’d be correct in thinking it sounds like the world’s most depressing story – Pea and her younger sister Margot are grieving their father, who died in a tractor accident on the family farm. Their mother is pregnant, also grieving, and deeply depressed. Pea and Margot are left to their own devices for much of the time – they play in the nearby stream and meadow, prepare their own meals, and think of ways to make Maman happy again. And then they meet their neighbour, Claude, and their small world changes.
“There are more than a thousand things in the world and one of them must make Maman happy. But how do we know which one? Exactly! says Margot. This is our new challenge. We are going to use our cleverness to make Maman happy again. We will start by trying yellow flowers.”
It’s not a dramatic story, it’s a delicate one. It’s simply but exceptionally well told. King manages to capture the extremes of being a five-year-old – of shifting from complete self-centeredness to wondering about the whole world in the blink of an eye; from being brave to scared in an instant; from being sad to happy in the space of a minute. Continue reading