Grahame has worked in illustration for twenty years and won the 2011 Kate Greenaway Medal for his inspiring tale of fatherhood, FArTHER. He is also the author-illustrator of The Rhythm of the Rain, winner of the 2019 English Association award, and The Twelve Days of Christmas: Panorama Pops and the illustrator of Wind in the Willows, Winter's Child, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Panorama Pops, and Leon and the Place Between. He lives in Bath, England, with his wife and three children.
The first time I saw images from picture book The Rhythm of the Rain I was so completely entranced by them that I just had to request this book to review. Written and illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith and published by Templar Publishing, this is one of the most magical picture books I've ever seen. I've often banged on about my love of non-fiction and the importance of good quality interesting factual books, well The Rhythm of the Rain is a step beyond any such non-fiction book I've come across before. In fact I'm sat here now moaning to my other half about how I start writing this blog, because I'm so bursting with love for the book that all my words are pouring out onto the page in an over-excitable babble!! Deep breaths Ally. Right, let's start at the start shall we? What's it all about? The Rhythm of the Rain is a non-fiction journey. Do you remember those water cycle diagrams from school? They nicely and clearly explain how the water cycle works, and they do the job very well. However The Rhythm of the Rain, takes this traditional water cycle theory and takes it to another more emotional, more real and more beautiful level. We follow the journey of water starting from one little pond on the side of a tiny mountain where Isaac plays. He throws water from a jam jar into the stream and thus we're taken on the truyly epic journey of water. Not the simple little trip that the diagrams show, but the truly astounding journey across our planet, from rivers to oceans to clouds, interacting with animals, humans and the environment, and then full circle right back to the pool where Isaac plays. This puts meaning into the story of water, it shows how water is used on this journey. It's not as static as the school diagrams show, it is SO much more important than that. Not only does this book show the real journey that water makes across our planet, but it also shows how we're all linked together by this one commodity, how we all use it, how we can be touched buy the same element even when separated by mountains and oceans and even continents. It's quite incredible when you really think about it, and this book gets this feeling across so brilliantly. The Rhythm of the Rain is poetically written, yet it's very clear and concise so I think children of all ages will understand the themes here, and with discussion it would be perfect for use in schools. It's gentle and rhythmic and very easy to read out loud. The truly remarkable and stand out aspect of this picture book are the illustrations. Grahame's artwork is incredible. The front cover of my hardback edition has the most gorgeous foil detail, representing the rain, over the top of an illustration of the original little pond, the start of the story and the river winding down to the ocean. It's an eye catcher for sure. On opening the pages you will be wowed constantly by the most incredible illustration work. You see places you would yearn to go, stunning water filled landscapes. Intricate details showing the readers how the water is being utilised on its journey; from humans using it for fun, work and survival, to different kinds of animals and ending with the growth of flowers. Each page is a breathtaking scene bursting with colour, texture, depth and information, giving this book such importance, enjoyment and educational value. Non-fiction books take many forms from the overtly factual information books, to a more subtle fun form. And without doubt there is a place for all forms, I think any way we can get non-fiction books out there, the better. The Rhythm of the Rain take non-fiction to another level, by injecting heart and emotion and scale into a very science and nature based theme and it really works so beautifully. During my stint as a teacher, I would have loved to have something like this to support my teaching. But, you know, non-fiction, education value aside, this book is just wonderful. beautiful and astounding to look at. * Book Monsters * This is far more than a simple explanation of thre water cycle - it's a stunning collection of works of art which demonstrate the entire water cycle in superb visual style. Issac is playing in his favourite pool high up on the mountain. As the rain starts, he pours his jar of water into the stream then follows it, as the stream turns into a river, flowing through countryside and city and out to sea; finally, it becomes a life-giving drink for a thirsty little girl. This outstanding book captures the wonderful way water moves across the earth - and makes us aware of just how precious this commodity is. Take time to revel in the detail of the beautiful and informative pictures. * Parents in Touch * This is a stunning picture book, and there are so many ways it can be shared with children. The story follows Issac and the jar of water he empties into a pool, from where it takes the reader on a journey following those drops of water through rivers and into seas, across oceans to frozen landscapes and then to jungles and towns, down into the deepest parts of the ocean and 'as it has done for millions of years', up into the clouds where rain forms, and falls back down on the flowers by the pond where Issac plays... Each spread is stunning, hugely evocative of the world waiting to be explored, and reminding us how precious is each drop of water. This is a gorgeous story to share and discuss, there is so much to explore on each page and the text is lyrical and opens up questions around our world. It can also be used alongside topics about water, rivers and habitats. Above all, the story reminds us about our environment and how precious it is and could lead into discussions around the environment; preserving water and keeping our oceans clean. * Reading Zone * Visually stunning, with spare text allowing pictures to do the heavy lifting, Grahame Baker-Smith's The Rhythm of the Rain (Templar) is a quiet, intoxicating account of water's transmutations. Where does the water in Issac's favourite mountain pool go? Following its progress down waterfalls, into rivers, lakes and sea, and back into the clouds, the reader is immersed in the flow of each light-filled landscape * The Guardian * This richly illustrated book explores the never ending path a drop of water takes and the connections it makes on its journey. The flowing prose celebrates the beauty of water as it moves - its moods and rhythms depicted by carefully chosen language, offering much to discuss and enjoy for the reader. The story is a celebration of water and all that it gives to everything on 'our blue water-world'. The clouds release their 'gift of water' in a country 'far, far away from Isaac's pool' where it is much needed. Wherever it goes, plants and creatures of the land, sky and sea welcome it, reminding us of how essential water is to our well-being.This celebration of water is continued in the fabulous illustrations which adorn each spread. Rich colours reflect the different moods and motion of the water as it meanders calmly, tumbles playfully and rolls wildly. Vibrant and absorbing, each is a mini masterpiece.Perfect for enjoying, 'The Rhythm of the Rain' could be used as a way into work on rivers or the water cycle. It could also be used to inspire poetry and descriptive writing. Just beautiful! * North Somerset Teachers Book Award * With Grahame Baker-Smith's spare lyrical prose in combination with his equally lyrical, breath taking, powerfully atmospheric, detailed illustrations, Wild is the Wind is narrative non-fiction at its memorable best. * Red Reading Hub * Grahame's art is breathtaking on each page, inviting children to marvel at the natural world and consider the effect that the wind has on landscapes, and the amazing fact that birds such as swifts are born knowing the migratory route their ancestors have taken for thousands of years * Book Trust *