Rain by Sam Usher

It’s raining, it’s pouring in Sam Usher’s glorious new picture book appropriately titled “Rain”.

I had it in the back of my mind for a while to post about it just because I’m dying to scream out to all of you,


but I wasn’t sure if all of you wanted to read me go on and on about the spectacular reflections and the incredible upside-down world that Sam Usher creates.

Or, perhaps it’s the glossy shine on the cover water droplets that is genius?

Or could I talk about how I actually got out my magnifying glass to see if he painted white on top for highlights, and was it watercolor or guoache?

But then I had a conversation with a friend about picture books and how they are so deceptively simple, yet so incredibly difficult.
The more layers of subtle messages that a pb delivers the better. Will a child ‘get’ the same messages and draw the same conclusions that an adult reader will? No, probably not. Not one will notice all the word choices and artistic decisions that both the author and illustrator made.

Rain is a lesson in very intelligent illustrating where the pictures tell lots more than the words. The premise is that the little boy loves to go outside in the rain and is anxious to do so with his Grandad. However, Grandad is distracted by a letter— illustrator cleverness shows two small hearts on the envelope. Hmmmm…. no wonder Grandad is preoccupied.

The little boy’s impatience grows and grows as do the floodwaters outside. Finally, Grandad has settled on his romantic reply and now is in a big hurry to go mail “his important letter”.

When the little boy opens the front door he and grandad float into a magical sea of exotic boats and gondolas. The toys in the little boy’s room are brought to life— brimming with joyful patterns and whimsy.


We all have varying likes and dislikes in picture books. And what we are trying to do here on PBB is point out what makes successful picture books and there are, of course, many components to this, some of which are quite subjective. But the basic winning formula is to have a story that can be enhanced and expanded by the illustrations. It makes me so happy when I look through a PB like Rain and see one brilliant illustrative addition after another. How can I not fall in love?

Graphically, there are some great choices such as not reversing the type on the dark spreads of rain. The type is fairly hard to see, but reversing it would have been too jarring. Doing it like this gives both the type and the picture equal attention.

“Rain” was preceded by “Snow”, which I also thought was wonderful. I anxiously away the two more that are to come in this series.

Look at that water cascading off the umbrella! For Pete’s sake people,



And P.S. The winner for the Blue Ethel Book Giveaway was Kathleen Mazurowski!

Kathleen, please go my website and email me with your address so I can get your copy out to you!



Thank you!

Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Jennifer is the illustrator and author of several acclaimed picture books. Most recently is Always by My Side, 'A Stuffie Story', which she wrote and illustrated. She also is both the author and illustrator of Playing Possum, and Blue Ethel. Jennifer illustrated Gondra’s Treasure, written by Newbery award winner Linda Sue Park. As well as, Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery medalist, Katherine Applegate. She illustrated Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, The Inventor's Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons, by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz.


  1. I can’t wait to get my hands–and eyes–on this beautiful picture book! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I can’t wait to get my hands –and eyes–on this beautiful picture book!

  3. You had me at the title page. Wonderful! Thanks, Jennifer!

  4. So beautiful! Can’t wait to explore more!

  5. Wow, this makes me remember, again, why I’m so thankful to have illustrators on this blog. THANK YOU for pointing out WHY the illustrations you’ve included here make my jaw drop. I need to get my hands on a copy pronto.

  6. Being from Seattle, I read all books about rain, and I read this one. Now I’ll have to go read it again to examine more carefully the illustrations. I remember liking them the first time and I took an art class in which we learned to paint water drops, so I appreciate the way they are done. Thanks for enlightening me!

  7. Gorgeous! And elegant in its simplicity!

  8. Wow! Such great art plus a wonderful story = pure joy! I can’t wait to find this book and read it!

  9. Looks like a stunning book! Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing the illustrator POV. So helpful!

  10. Gorgeous. I cant wait to see more.

  11. I’m putting this one on my list! Thanks Jennifer!

  12. Those are some amazing illustrations! Can’t wait to read this one.

  13. Elizabeth Curry

    So beautiful. Can’t wait to read it!

  14. Elizabeth Curry

    Beautiful! I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for the post.

  15. Just put this on hold at my library and I can see I’m in for a special treat! Thanks for featuring it!

  16. Just when you think there can’t be anything new in a PB about rain, here is one that promises to be a new experience. Thanks for sharing this.

  17. Wow. The illustrations are mesmerizing. Love it, love it, love it!

  18. Oh my gosh! This book is a work or art!

  19. Sam Usher is so SO good! I marveled at the sky and clouds and light in “Snow”–the lush, watery quality of the paint completely pulled me into the scenes. Here in “Rain” I love the reflections in the water. Happy for your post and that Sam Usher is getting such high praise from you, Jennifer.

  20. I was so incredibly lucky to have Sam illustrate ALL ABOARD THE LONDON BUS. He worked his watercolor magic on every page, including a very rainy Piccadilly Circus. He’s amazing! Thanks for this post, Jennifer.

  21. Thank you for this, Jennifer! I’m working on a book right now that has a scene with rain, and was just wondering about how I was going to do it. I will have to go look at this book for inspiration! (and probably will wonder how he did that too…)

  22. Loved Usher’s use of reflections in Rain, not to mention the whimsy. Now I need to check out Snow. With the hot weather we’ve been having, it might be a cooling experience. ?

  23. Thanks for revealing this one to me, Jennifer. Absolutely agree, how DOES he paint water like that?!!
    Love the “deceptively simple, yet so incredibly difficult” line. Spot on!

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