I am a HUGE fan of Laura Ellen Anderson! Her Amelia Fang series was the first series of books that my daughter and I had a shared obsession with. I had listened to a couple of the Amelia Fang audiobooks myself and loved them, and I suggested to my daughter that we listen to one on the way to school one day. She absolutely loved listening to them and we got to the stage where we were quoting lines from the books to each other. It felt a little like our own secret club, because no one else in our family knew what we were going on about. When we finally listened to the last book in the series, Amelia Fang and the Trouble with Toads, we were both sad that we wouldn’t have any more adventures with Amelia, Squashy, Florence, Grimaldi and Tangine. They are the BEST audiobooks because Zoe Thorne perfectly captures the characters with her voices. My daughter told me that I couldn’t read the books aloud, after we had listened to the audiobooks, because ‘your voices don’t sound the same dad.’ Like so many other fans of Laura’s books, I was incredibly excited when she announced she was writing a new series, called Rainbow Grey. It feels like I’ve been waiting a long time for Rainbow Grey (especially when I was seeing people in the UK getting the most beautiful early copies of the book, with rainbow sprayed edges!). Thankfully, Rainbow Grey has now arrived in NZ! Over the past week I’ve been reading Rainbow Grey aloud to my daughter and we have been enthralled.
Ray Grey lives in the Weatherlands in the City of Celestia. The Weatherlands are responsible for creating the weather for Earth. The Sun Weatherlings look after the great Sunflower in the sky that provides light and warmth for humans, and there are Snow, Rain and Wind Weatherlings who use their magic to give Earth its weather. Ray’s friends, Droplett and Snowden, both have weather magic but Ray has none. Ray wishes she had magic and longs for adventure, like her hero, Earth explorer La Blaze Delight. Ray gets more than she bargained for though when a map in an old book sends her off on a forbidden trip to Earth. Ray and her friends discover a crystal which unleashes a power that hasn’t been seen in the Weatherlands for centuries. Suddenly, Ray has more power than she ever imagined was possible. Where there is great power though, there is always someone wanting that power for nefarious means. Someone Ray thought was her friend becomes her enemy and they will stop at nothing to take Ray’s new-found power. With the help of her friends and family, Ray will have to defeat this new enemy in order to save Earth from destruction.
I absolutely LOVE Rainbow Grey! This is a book bursting with magic, imagination, humour and heart. It is twisty, nail-biting, funny and completely brilliant. Every time we would read this book together, I found myself saying ‘let’s just read one more chapter,’ because I didn’t want to put the book down. There are some real cliff-hanger endings, where you can’t possibly stop! We were both hooked and couldn’t wait to dive back in to it again.
Like all of Laura’s stories, you immediately click with the characters and they feel like your best friends. Ray is incredibly determined, never giving up on what she believes in, and she is very brave. Snowden is clever and always looking for solutions to the conundrums that him and his friends find themselves in (and he loves drizzle pickle sandwiches!). Droplett is sassy, very good at puddle-porting, and will stand up to anyone who is mean to her friends. Ray, Snowden and Droplett make an amazing team and they always have each other’s backs. You feel like you are right there beside them as they try to save the world. The situation gets pretty tense towards the end and we ended up biting our nails, wondering how they were going to get through.
The thing I love most about Laura’s stories is the humour and this book radiates humour. The humour is there in the names of the characters (La Blaze Delight and her pigeon, Coo La La, is just one example), it’s there in the dialogue and in the illustrations, and it’s there in the events of the story. There are so many parts that made us laugh, like knicker-nadoes, exploding cloud-cats, and people being called thunderbum-faces.
Laura Ellen Anderson’s cover is amazing, with Ray’s rainbow hair swirling through the title. If I didn’t already automatically buy a new Laura Ellen Anderson book I would certainly be picking this one up to read. Laura has such a recognisable illustration style, and one of the things I love most about her illustrations is that every character looks different. Each of the different types of Weatherling has a different style of dress. Droplett has her raincape and has tight-fitting clothes (good for puddle-porting), whereas Snowden has snow-white hair, gloves and a scarf. I especially love La Blaze’s style.
Laura wraps up the story nicely, but gives us a tantalising glimpse of what is to come in the epilogue. Both my daughter and I will eagerly await the sequel and there will be squeals from both of us when it is published. I can say with confidence that Rainbow Grey is a FANTASTIC read aloud, for ages 6-10. It is one of those stories that would be particularly good as a family read aloud, if you have a range of ages to cater for.