The Day it Rained Letters
By Nury Vittachi
Illustrated by Eomonn O’Boyle
Imagine a world without books. Or stories. A rather depressing thought, isn’t it? What a terribly boring place it would be.
An interesting premise, of which Vittachi makes a wonderful book as he weaves magic with words. A perfect storybook. Not just for children, but one that would appeal to writers, illustrators, publishers, reviewers, book evangelists and book lovers of all ages. Here’s to books and stories, may this whimsical tale never become reality.
The author paints a desolate picture of a land without stories, and the illustrator succeeds in making it even bleaker.
Then one day, curious looking shapes begin to fall and Minky Binka (I love that name!) collects them. No one knows what they are, not even the little girl’s mother.
What I love even more is Mr. Reed’s (the human encyclopaedia) explanations to the kids who have come upon these very rare shapes – the letters of the alphabet. Stories were scrumptious things served on thin plates called pages, and eaten with eyes! Only, they didn’t go into the tummy, but into a dream machine in the head. Imagination, he says, was wonderful stuff, but as films became common, storybooks disappeared and with them, imagination.
The kids think imagination is a wonderful thing to have, and want to eat the shapes with their eyes, but Mr. Reed informs them that there have to be a great many for the system to work.
There is a subtle change as the letters rain down - the way the children speak is not dull and unimaginative anymore. They now see the moon as a magic lantern, as God’s night-light.
The letters fall as in a blizzard, and the excited kids collect them from everywhere.
And then they have the First Story Book in a long, long time.
Mr. Reed explains it to an astonished audience – a book needs no batteries, has no buttons! They sit down to listen err... eat with their ears.
Clearly, a storybook is a wonderful thing