Monday, March 26, 2018

Always Room for More! The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates

By the front door... there's an umbrella. It's BIG.

When April showers come your way... whatcha gonna do? Grab an umbrella!

That's just what this girl does. She's wearing her yellow slicker and green galoshes, but it's a heavy downpour and she needs a big umbrella.

But this is not your ordinary umbrella. It's a big umbrella in the usual sense, but it's also the metaphoric big umbrella," capable of extending its coverage to the many and diverse people our girl meets as she walks through the town.

It likes to spread its arms wide.
It loves to gather people in.

And gather it does, a boy in a hoodie and a girl in a tutu and ballet shoes, a Sasquatch with a briefcase and what appears to be a giant duck... and more and more. No one is turned away. Never losing its wide smile, the umbrella expands to shelter them all, even a Basset hound, a baby in a stroller, and three ducklings (who don't much seem to take to rain water, either.)

Some people worry that there won't be enough room under the big umbrella.

But there always is.

This umbrella, whose smile just gets wider as it expands, welcomes all and sundry when they need to come in out of the rain. Sweet without being smarmy, Amy June Bates' just published The Big Umbrella (Simon & Schuster, 2018) makes use of the idiom "big umbrella" in its metaphoric meaning of an overarching protection, giving meaning to its all-inclusive mission. Along with its simple narration, Bates' illustrations convey most of the meaning as the cheerful umbrella grows wider with each inclusion of a gently humorous assembly of varied figures. Artist Bates keeps the rainy cityscape in soft-focus colors which seem to melt into a watery background, giving the foreground over to the umbrella and its friends, reinforcing a theme that is organic rather than preachy. Says School Library Journal, “This sweet extended metaphor uses an umbrella to demonstrate how kindness and inclusion work...A lovely addition to any library collection, for classroom use or for sharing at home.”

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