In Halward’s debut chapter book, four magical creatures born of the rainbow bring messages of hope, love, sharing and respect to children around the world.
As this self-proclaimed “remarkable story full of charm and unforgettable adventures” opens, the world faces total darkness. After the world is deluged with months of rain (despite which the trees dry up), the sun finally breaks through the clouds, and a rainbow appears. In the magic that follows, six rainbow-colored creatures appear, each with a mission to bring a particular emotion or virtue to the children of the world. Of the six creatures, which are round spheres with hands and feet, big eyes and velvety skin, only four have adventures in this book. Blummy, the blue sphere, teaches sharing to bullies in Mexico; Grenny, the green sphere, helps a family of New Yorkers who lost their dog hold onto hope that she will be found; Remmy, the red sphere, helps a lonely girl in Russia realize she can make friends; and Pattyna, the purple sphere, enlists the help of a dragon to save a village in China from a mudslide. It’s a wonderful idea to use several locations around the world for these stories, but in practice, the book gives little feeling of diversity. The bullied child in Mexico is Johnny, who attends a school that feels American; the only cultural detail offered is his grandmother making him tacos for lunch. The Russian children have Russian-sounding names, but the story could otherwise happen in any winter forest in which friendly bears live. Halward has her Chinese children explain the meanings of each of their names, making their introductions feel similar to those of a baby-name book; the dragon, which breathes fire and has wings, acts more like a Western dragon than its Chinese counterpart. Young’s brightly colored, cartoonish illustrations are the highlights here, but while they may attract young readers, they cannot save the book from its text-heavy story.
Purple prose unlikely to hold the attention of young, independent readers.