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Reena’s mother hits the nail on the head when she tells her: ‘We are like the colours of the rainbow. We are all different. But when we stand together, we are one’.
For Reena, her difference is that she cannot hear. Most of the time this doesn’t matter – she plays with lots of kids and is the best at finding the others when they play hide and seek. Although deaf, she sees and notices the little things the others miss: ‘she saw the leaves shimmer and dance in the breeze.’
Sometimes, though, her difference makes her feel left out and alone. Mum offers words of comfort but Reena still feels ‘periwinkle blue’ – a colour that doesn’t belong in the rainbow.
Kind-hearted and recognising that he needs a friend, she makes friends with the scruffy brown dog hiding in the shadows. Thanks to Reena and Dog’s sharp eyes and quick action, an accident is avoided. Dog is hurt and in helping him, Reena sees how he fits perfectly into her life ‘at the end of her bed, in the space under her chair, on the park bench next to her.’ Now sporting a cute rainbow collar, Dog becomes her best friend who helps her when she needs to hear; like when her friends are calling her to join their game.
Filled with engaging and colour filled illustrations, Reena’s Rainbow brings an important message of kindness, understanding and inclusiveness. It highlights the need to think of other’s needs to ensure all can participate in their own way, and helps show that everyone has individual strengths and differences that are valuable and are to be celebrated.
Dee White and Tracie Grimshaw have created a heart-warming tale of friendship which encourages empathy in a way that will appeal to young readers. It can open up conversations about diversity and acceptance; encouraging us to look past differences to really see the unique individual. This kindness and acceptance is beautifully portrayed in the last illustration – the group of children under a rainbow, learning sign language with Reena.
Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen
by Dee White and Tracie Greenwood
EK Books, 2017