Thursday 28 September 2023

Follow the Rainbow

Follow the Rainbow by Juliet M. Sampson & Anne Ryan (Ford Street Publishing) PB HB RRP $26.95 9781922696335

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Juliet M Sampson is an award-winning author. Her debut picture book Grace’s Mystery Seed was a finalist in the international book awards in 2019.

Ruby really wants to know what’s at the end of the rainbow on the family farm. So along with her best friend Tavish the dog, she explores the great outdoors and makes all sorts of discoveries, with the last discovery being the most important one of all.

Sampson’s strong opening page captures reader attention. Ruby leaned back and gazed up at the sky. ‘Look, Tavish, there’s a fairy with a wand!’ This is something a child would say. Dialogue is used in just the right places. Sampson shows that rainbows appear after rain and young children do like to learn things from books. Her use of questioning with no responses means that Ruby and Tavish venture further to seek answers themselves. ‘What’s at the end of the rainbow, Scarecrow?’ she asked. Scarecrow didn’t say a word. This lets a child know that they too can keep on seeking answers even when there is no response.

Sampson’s words have captured that divine innocence of childhood - how a child thinks and acts. Ruby splashed through puddles as she ran across the paddock. Soon the rainbow was right overhead. The story building is delightful and once at the end of the rainbow there is no surprise. So just like that Ruby and Tavish decide to try the other end. This shows how a child will seek to know something until satisfied.

What is a winner with this story is when Ruby makes the greatest discovery of all by herself - family. This message is clear and important.  Sampson’s Ruby and Tavish are warm and engaging characters that will capture young hearts.

 Anne Ryan is the second part of this picture book team. She grew up in Ballarat Victoria. This makes her a wonderful choice because the book is set on a farm. You can tell she knows how a farm looks and feels. She has creatively played with the storyline and used collage and bright primary colours to great effect. I absolutely love Ruby’s red gumboots which are a clever inspiration from The Wizard of Oz. Ruby and Tavish are shown as determined and curious characters by their movements and body language. Ryan’s illustrations really show the innocence and joy of a child given freedom to be able to explore and play. I particularly love the collaged rainbow on the cover with Ruby and Tavish marching determinedly across the top. It draws immediate attention to the book.

Follow the Rainbow is a picture book for children 3-8 years that magically brings play, imagination, and discovery together. The book has a strong storyline and children are curious about what’s at the end of a rainbow. This book is sure to resonate with children, parents, teachers, and librarians.









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