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Whatever the Weather (Part 1)

This week we are thrilled to be able to bring you not just one but two Blogs featuring the weather, both in very different and very exciting ways, showcasing the wonderful freedoms children's books offer, their diversity and ingenuity. Stroytelling has never been so much fun but I am sure that as readers the fun is all ours, after all we didn't have to do all the creative work!

For Part 1 of our Whatever the Weather feature we bring you Rainbows!

How to Find a Rainbow is about two very different sisters who go on a quest to find a rainbow. Along the way, their relationship is tested, but they are ultimately rewarded with the satisfaction of working out the mystery of how a rainbow is formed. 


The characters were inspired by my own two daughters - seeing how they approach the world in their different ways, and watching them as they navigate their relationship. In the story I wanted to capture the tension between genuine friendship and obligation that often defines sibling dynamics. Reena and Rekha might not be sure if they’re friends because they want to be or because, being sisters, they have to be…but maybe that’s why the relationship works.


I was also inspired by the many, many picture books I’ve read with my daughters, particularly the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel and the Mouse and Mole books by Joyce Dunbar and James Mayhew. I love both these series of books, mostly because of the charming characters and their endearing relationships.


Another thing I love about these books is the illustrations, which have such a distinct feel to them and really bring to life the characters and the worlds they inhabit. I feel that the wonderful Sarthak Sinha has done the same for Reena and Rekha – he has brought the two sisters and their habitat alive for me in way that surpassed my hopes for the book. The first time I saw his ideas for How to Find a Rainbow, I was astonished at how he had captured its essence so completely. Sarthak is an incredibly accomplished writer and illustrator, and I am so grateful that he agreed to do this book – his Indian roots, and his extensive exploration of nature, from tropical rainforests to the high Himalayas, made him the ideal artist for this book. He has infused the book with exactly the sort of authenticity, warmth, and vibrancy that I hoped it would have.


When I pitched the book to my publisher, they asked me why I chose to have animal characters instead of humans. I explained that, apart from the cuteness factor, having animal characters would let me have distinctly South Asian characters but allow children from any background to identify with them. The jungle Reena and Rekha live in is their adventure playground - a safe and fascinating space away from grown-ups. Although the book’s readers may live in a very different environment, I hope Reena and Rekha’s escapades are ones that will resonate with children everywhere.


One thing my publisher wasn’t surprised about was the science angle the of the book – a lot of my work as a writer has been inspired and informed by my job as a science teacher. Since becoming a father, I have been increasingly interested in ways to get young children interested in science. I think a lot of people don’t ever get the opportunity to really engage with science as a meaningful activity – mostly because of poor experiences of science at school. I believe that science starts with wonder, taking joy and delight and interest in the natural world. In this book, I wanted to show how exploring simple, every day, natural world phenomena, like a rainbow, is a way for children to take the first steps towards looking at the world through a scientific lens. I also wanted to convey the sense that science and art are both creative endeavours stemming from our innate human instinct to make sense of the world and share what we know with others.


Although I didn’t plan it this way, it turns out that Reena and Rekha are like many of the classic successful partnerships in science – one is mostly a thinker and theorist, and the other is a practical experimentalist. Their contrasting personalities complement each other, and their shared trait of curiosity can lead to creativity but also to conflict… which is resolved so that the sisters remain friends.


I loved writing this story and feel tremendously grateful to have had it turned into such a beautiful book with the help of Sarthak and all the incredibly talented and creative people at Scribble. I really hope parents, carers, and children will respond positively to the themes about friendship and creativity, as well as to the little bit of science I’ve tried to sneak in.

We want to extend our thanks to Alom Shaha for taking the time to write this piece for us here at Armadillo Magazine and to Nicola Garrison, Senior Publicity & Marketing Executive at Scribble.



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