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Thursday, March 9, 2017

When the Rain Comes, written by Alma Fullerton and illustrated by Kim LaFave. Pajama Press, 2016. $19.95 ages 5 and up

"Today she will learn
to plant those seedlings.

Over the next few months
they will grow strong
and bring food and fortune
to her village.
But what if

she does it wrong?"

A much anticipated sound awakens Malini! The ox cart driver is finally here with his very important load of rice seedlings. The rice is ready to plant; Malini is ready to help with that planting. The driver asks the young girl to 'keep an eye' on his ox while he takes a needed break. Malini is a bit frightened by its size and strength, but she takes the responsibility to heart and watches carefully. So carefully, in fact, that when the rains suddenly pound down causing flash flooding, she knows that she must take action.

Wishing she could hide from the swirling water, and knowing that the bullock driver cannot get to her through it, she takes matters into her own hands. The ox is terrified. It is up to Malini to get the cart to safety or their livelihood and their food will be gone.

on the rein
until the ox follows her
through the rising water.

the hill to Baba's barn.

Inside, she pulls the door closed."

Although she is frightened herself, she realizes that she must provide calm for the frantic animal. What a brave girl!

Readers will relate to Malini's emotions, and feel great relief when her bravery ensures safety and success. Kids will happily accept an invitation to share their own stories of being afraid, and of acts of bravery.

Kim LaFave masterfully captures every nuance of the story through use of color and motion. They fully support the mood created by Ms. Fullerton's telling free verse text. An author's note places the story in Sri Lanka and provides plenty of interesting information about the island nation and the people who live there. Knowing more about the children of the world, their culture and the lives they live is cause for celebration.    

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