All I Want for Christmas is Rain
New Frontier, 2016
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
It is a sight so familiar to many Australian children. Brown, cracked, dried earth as far as the eye can see, and even if it could see further, the landscape wouldn’t change. Drought. The farmer’s curse is this sunburnt country where it can be a long time between drinks for the land and paddocks are empty as livestock is trucked off to the saleyards because it costs more to feed them than they are worth.
It takes its toll on farmers and their families and in a desperate bid to change things, Jane takes the long shiny train into her nearest town because Santa is coming and he is the one person who can grant children’s wishes. Standing in the queue in the hot sun, patiently waiting her turn, Jane has only one request from Santa. “My wish is for rain.”
Set against a backdrop of the most stunning and powerful illustrations that depict the desolation of the Australian landscape in drought, this story-in-rhyme brings alive the reality of summer and Christmas for so many and gives the reader pause to think about what life can be like at this time for our country cousins and what are the true gifts that we can hope for. While we cling to the English traditions of our ancestors with snow-clad scenes, hot dinners and Santas in red furry suits, there are those who see an entirely different side to this festive time that may not be so joyful. An excellent opportunity for the children to express their interpretation of an Australian Christmas in art and perhaps a change from the more traditional pictures and crafts.
I wish it had been available in 2002 when the news was dominated by the dreadful drought gripping so much of the country and my library’s focus was on gathering gifts for the children of Charleville. It would have been the perfect starter to show the people behind the landscapes of the news in a way that spoke directly to my students. But, in the meantime, it’s winging its way to Wales to show some children there what Christmas can be like for the children here.
Another worthy addition to Australia: Story Country.