A birthday gift from the North Wind. A pie so feathery-light it carries people away. A cat on a mat that grants wishes to a poor girl and her grandmother. Elves in the shelves, mermaids in the bathtub and a tiger that’s faster than the wind. Joan Aiken’s A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories is a magical book that is probably one of the best read-alouds out there for kindergarten and early elementary grades.
There are eight stories in all that are short enough to hold a young one’s attention span yet long enough to tell a satisfying story. But this book does not have to be just a read-aloud. The writing is simple but eloquent and would be a joy for an independent reader to discover.
Other versions of this book were amazingly illustrated by Jan Pienkowski with detailed silhouettes against bright backgrounds and are wonderful if they can be found. Kevin Hawkes’ pictures in our library editions are playful and much simpler, but they work nicely with the story, too. Joan Aiken’s gifted storytelling leads on the readers’ and listeners’ imaginations, regardless of the illustrations.
Joan Aiken wrote many imaginative books for children, young adults, and adults. Probably her best-known series of chapter books for slightly older children begins with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, the story of cousins Bonnie and Sylvia whose pampered world turns upside-down when cruel Miss Slighcarp takes over their home and forces them into an orphanage.
A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories is a precious gift to young readers.