A rain cloud befriends a grumpy young florist by helping to reinvigorate her distressed plants.
Its companions scattered by “the horrible, hot sun,” the rain cloud (gendered as “he”) begins to search for a friend. Spotting a solitary, grumpy-looking brown girl in a yellow dress, white socks, and red shoes, the cloud follows her—to the market, onto the metro, and to her doorstep—where she roundly rebuffs him: “Leave me alone!” The cause of Ivy’s discontent eludes the cloud, but readers will spot some visual clues. She runs a florist shop, and her plants and flowers are wilting and droopy, despite her glum attention. She sits at her desk, head in hands. On a wall are pictures—one of Ivy smiling in the shop window and another with a man and woman: her parents? There’s a framed award. Recognizing that Ivy is sad and feeling sorry for her, the rain cloud begins to water Ivy’s plants after she goes to bed. She’s greeted next morning by a shop full of lush, hydrated plants, and she and the rain cloud thenceforth grow “beautiful flowers together, come rain or shine.” Literal-minded children might well ask: why is a child living and working all by herself?
Harnett’s illustrations are colorful and charming, but because Ivy isn’t an agent in her own recovery, this tale of the restorative power of friendship seems imperfectly resolved for young readers. (Picture book. 4-6)