Polly Peabody lives on a magical farm where the rhubarb tastes like chocolate, the rain comes every Monday at precisely 1:00 p. m., and the bugs communicate with children—at least the ones who will listen. Everything is perfect until the day the rain stops coming. Now suddenly Aunt Edith wants to sell, Polly’s brother Freddy is mysteriously ill, and Polly’s best friend Harry the rhubarb plant won’t tell her anything. But Polly is determined to uncover the secret behind the magic and save the farm, even if that means facing the disgusting slugsand and the haunted silo.
The summary on the back of the book makes this story sound wonderously quirky, but I was sold when I read that the protagonist’s best friend is a talking rhubarb plant. How much weirder than that can you get, right? I wanted to see how this played out in the story and whether the story actually proves believable or just plain bizarre. As it turn outs, the story is bizarre, but so bizarre that you have to believe it anyway. Because if there are not talking rhubarb plants and spelling bugs in the world, what is the point at all?
Of course, a story like this always runs the risk of having its strange elements overshadow the plot or even the characters. And, to be frank, I was always much more interested in meeting the Monster Cricket again or in exploring a new part in the farm than I was in following Polly’s personal journey of self-discovery or even in learning where the mysterious rain comes from. We all know that Polly will find her courage and that the farm must be saved, but the marvels of nature are always unexpected.
The book, however, has a lot to say about human nature, too, and I am sure many an adult has closed the pages feeling that this would be a wonderful story to pass onto their children. Polly, of course, learns to find her voice and to stand up against the children who bully her, but she also learns that people are always more complex than she expected, always surprising. It is possible that someone you love will hurt you, possible that adults will act like children, and possible that some people are actually nicer than you give them credit for. Many people are wounded and some will use that as an excuse to lash out, while others become kinder as a result. Some people act like queens, but, in fact, are simply small-minded. Because Polly spends so much time absorbed in herself, she initially fails to recognize all this, but, with the help of her friends, she begins to look around. People, it seems, need just as much care and attention as plants.
Drizzle is a charming story full of quirks and wonders that is sure to delight anyone who still believes in magic. Furthermore, it features a protagonist full of heart and courage (whether or not she herself knows it) who is sure to find a home in the heart of her readers. An enchanting way to spend an afternoon.