[Book Review] Rayne Shines by Bonnie Ferrante


Rayne is bored with life, until a new family moves in next door. Why do they look so happy? Rayne wants to know their secret. Rayne Shines is a humorous and thought-provoking picture book for ages five to seven.



A copy of this book was provided free by the author in exchange for an honest review.

As a person who tends to fall into the "cynic" camp, I was a bit hesitant about Rayne Shines. The story follows a young frog whose family's outlook on life is always negative until she befriend a new neighbor who brings her around to positive thinking. My worry was that the story would be heavy-handed in its message, as are most of the moralistic picture books I read (I'm looking at you, Berenstain Bears); to be perfectly honest, I was expecting a simple story about a cynic who changes her ways rather easily and without much authentic character development so that the book can teach its moral.

Happily, Rayne Shines was a pleasant surprise. Instead of Rayne meeting Sunny, her neighbor, and instantly changing her mindset after a glimpse of the other girl's lifestyle, the book manages to transition Rayne and her family from negative to positive in a way that's reasonably organic and gradual, given how short the story is. Meanwhile, the "negativity versus positivity" issue is fairly well represented; instead of taking a traditional "pessimists versus optimists" angle, it manifests more as a moral of relaxing the urge to preemptive judge experiences and letting oneself have fun. I have to say, I much prefer that approach to a more straightforward and reductive "well, just look on the bright side!" story.

The only issue I have with the book is that the art style (as seen on the cover above) isn't appealing to me. Otherwise, though, Rayne Shines was a fairly entertaining way to spend a few minutes of my time; if you're looking for a picture book with a positivity moral and are interested in buying something Indie, Rayne Shines might be a good place to start.

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