Rain at Noon (“La Pluie à midi”), by Julie Stephen Chheng

1 min

Rain at Noon (“La Pluie à midi”), by Julie Stephen Chheng

With Rain at noon, a narrative combining a book and a digital app, Julie Stephen Chheng invites us on a playful and interactive exploration of Joe the Goldfish's aquatic universe.

© DR

A new kind of storyteller

Graphic designer and Franco-Chinese author Julie Stephen Chheng explores new forms of storytelling, combining paper and digital media. After training at the Ecole nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris, she undertook two artists’ residences, in China in 2014 and Japan in 2016, where she worked on personal projects.


Today, her workshop is located in Paris at Volumique, a studio that develops innovative books and games. Julie Stephen Chheng has published hybrid works there, straddling the physical and the virtual, such as Poems in Pieces (“Poèmes en pièces”), Moving Cards, and Rain at Noon.


An interactive story


Rain at Noon is Julie Stephen Chheng’s latest work. In it we discover the adventures of Joe, a goldfish who dreams of becoming a shark.


The paper book is combined with an app designed as a game. The aim is to offer children a complete experience, enabling them to become a character in the story, helping Joe recover his lost fin.


As they explore the ocean, they beat challenges to unlock powers, collect all kinds of fish or detach paper fins from the book to play with the app.




From idea to screen

Rain at Noon came from the idea of “a paper-digital puzzle”. At the beginning of her project, Julie Stephen Chheng drew paper modules that complete animated shapes on a screen.


The hero, Joe, was inspired by a scene in a documentary where a shark has his fin torn off. So before he was a goldfish, Joe had to be a shark...


The author then started working with the Volumique studio teams and the Ex Nihilo collective. The story, the soundscape and the graphic universes then took shape to produce an interactive story.


An app without borders

Available in four languages (English, French, German and Italian), Rain at Noon is designed to cross borders and adapt to the user's environment.


Depending on the time, weather and geolocation, it changes to offer the most immersive experience possible. If it rains, Joe swims between the drops. If it is night-time, the app shifts to a nocturnal atmosphere. Even the fish change according to the location. Rain at Noon recreates a mobile graphic ocean!

The Institut français and the project

Rain at Noon (“La Pluie à midi”) is presented as part of “Reading Machines” produced by the Institut français, an exhibition dedicated to innovative books which tours internationally across the French cultural network abroad.


It is also part of the selection available on, a platform that collects and promotes works falling under the umbrella of innovative books.