Linda Ashman

children's book author, mom, wife, writing instructor, animal lover, gardener, vegetarian . . .


"Two very different attitudes about the weather go head-to-head in Linda Ashman’s buoyant “Rain!” All furrowed brow and put-upon frown, an older, balding man grumps “Rain!” at the drops he sees outside his window. Meanwhile, in another apartment building, a little boy throws his arms up and delights at the “rain!” plinking on the fire escape. . . Everyone the man meets is soured by the experience, as shown by a downturned mouth here, an aggrieved expression there. The boy, on the other hand, spreads metaphorical sunshine, prompting enthusiastic waves and indulgent smiles. When the two inevitably cross paths, it’s no surprise the boy’s positive outlook wins over the grouch — eventually — but their interaction still feels fresh and natural." The New York Times Sunday Book Review

"A child and an adult look at rain from both sides. For the grumpy man, a rainy day is cause for complaint, but for the boy, it is undiluted joy. . . At the aptly named Rain or Shine Café, they bump into each other, and the boy’s cheerfulness is rebuffed. But he is not about to let this setback kill his enthusiasm. An act of kindness and a bit of role playing lead to a change of heart, a happier outlook and a big splash. Text and illustrations are bound together in a package that is beautifully constructed and perfectly complementary. . . Altogether delightful. " -- Starred review, Kirkus

"Good and bad moods alike can be contagious, as this rainy-day story handily demonstrates. Writing solely in dialogue and exclamations, Ashman contrasts the ways two people view a city rainstorm. “Rain!” grumps a cantankerous man, staring at the storm from underneath bushy furrowed eyebrows. “Rain!” shouts a boy from the window of a building whose sunny color matches his outlook . . . Along the way, the boy charms everyone he meets—the exact opposite of what the older man is doing (frowns abound when he’s near). When the two eventually meet, it’s not certain which attitude will win out, but luckily for the diverse townsfolk, the boy’s kindness and openness rule the day." -- Publishers Weekly

"On a dreary, rainy day, two strangers have very different views about the weather: one is an elderly man who grumbles and complains throughout the day, and the other is a little boy who makes the most of the puddles on the sidewalk. When they meet at the Rain or Shine Café, the child finds himself momentarily brought down by the man’s sullen demeanor until a mix-up with their hats brings out the old man’s smile and optimism. Robinson’s paint-and-collage artwork is bright and eye-catching; it’s perfect for storytime sharing. The urban setting is reflected in the diverse cast of characters, but suburban and rural children will also connect with the story. This will be ideal to share in late winter when everyone is suffering from the winter blues and needs a reminder to make the most of the gloom and gray." School Library Journal (Laura Lutz, Pratt Institute, New York City)

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Illustrations ©2013 by Christian Robinson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

There are just 78 words in RAIN!, but the manuscript submitted to editors had more than 1,000 words -- mostly describing the scenes on each page. Feel free to take a look at the manuscript below. And check out my messy storyboard as well.

It's not much to look at, but my storyboard was very helpful in figuring out the pacing for a 32-page picture book.

Parents and Educators: Download this Activity Guide (produced by Anna Boll) and Christian Robinson's Activity Sheets for fun book-related activities for your classroom or home.

In a small household like ours -- two adults and one teenager -- someone's bad mood can put all three of us in a funk (and send the dogs skulking off, to boot). Luckily for me, Jack and Jackson have mostly sunny dispositions. Mostly. I'm the one most likely to have the black cloud hovering over my head.

I was thinking about the power of moods one day, and how even an encounter with a stranger can lift your spirits or dampen them. In a face to face meeting, I wondered, which force field would dominate, the positive or the negative? And how might one convey the contagious impact of a mood in a picture book?

From the beginning, I imagined a story told in images rather than words. I wanted something universal -- and visual -- that two people might respond to very differently. Rain fit the bill. Then it was a matter of coming up with two contrasting people -- a young boy and an older man -- and showing how differently the two reacted to the weather. And then showing how the two responded to each other when brought face to face. This was the tricky part.

Kate O'Sullivan at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquired the manuscript (you can read her thoughts about the story, printed on the book jacket, below). Besides being a genuine pleasure to work with, Kate signed up the oh-so-talented Christian Robinson to illustrate the book. I love Christian's characters, especially the adorable little boy, his city landscape, and the heart he brings to the story. Oh, he also gave my anonymous coffee shop the perfect name: The Rain or Shine Cafe.

Illustrations ©2013 by Christian Robinson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

From the editor's desk:
We've all seen someone walking down the street with a furrowed brow or a brisk, angry walk that makes us give them a wide berth. Or, conversely, we've been affected positively by someone with a cheerful smile or sunny demeanor. That's what this book is about: the power of people's energy and what happens when different perspectives collide. I hope that within these pages you'll enjoy the transformative power of a smile--pass it on! -- Kate O'Sullivan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Brand New
"A go-to source of calm and comfort." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
In Print
"Altogether delightful." Starred review, KIRKUS
"Excellent advice in a sweet and easy-to-swallow package." KIRKUS
"A memorable first skate by an irresistible imp." Starred review, KIRKUS
"Ashman's concept is both sophisticated and delightful." KIRKUS
"Beautifully crafted and satisfying." Starred Review, BOOKLIST
"Kids will love the colorful paintings while parents will appreciate that it's chock full of facts about the Centennial State." VAIL DAILY
A "lovely reverie on the joys of being alive and being loved." Starred Review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"As pithy and clever as Ogden Nash at his best." Starred Review, KIRKUS
"A splendid bedtime fantasy." KIRKUS
Other Titles
"Ashman's poetic portraits are packed with lots of tasty assonance and alliteration." Starred Review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Quirky, sarcastic, and rather educational, too." BOOKLIST
"A 10 on the "aw"-inspiring scale." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"A family outing gone hilariously awry." BOOKLIST
"A rip-roaring, exciting excursion." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
An "enchanting ride." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"The clever, rhyming text bounces along with perfect cadence." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"A riotous adventure." HORN BOOK MAGAZINE
"Vibrant, playful text . . . excellent for storytimes." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"A hilarious look at the world through the sharp eyes and nose of a dog." SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
"This one's a keeper." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Youngsters will find nothing but comfort in these pages." KIRKUS
"Ashman captures the non-stop action in rollicking rhyme." KIRKUS
A "captivating collaboration." Starred Review, KIRKUS
"A lighthearted look at bad behavior." KIRKUS
Wagmore is "a charming, gentle hero." KIRKUS REVIEWS