When the Rain Comes

illus. by Kim La Fave. 32p. Pajama. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781772780123.
PreS-Gr 2—A little girl overcomes her fear and bravely saves her family's rice crop from destruction in a sudden downpour. Malini is both excited and nervous about her first day of work helping to plant rice seedlings, but when the driver of the oxcart that delivers the plants asks her to take over the reins for a moment, she becomes an unexpected heroine. As the author explains in an endnote, monsoon season in Sri Lanka can bring about flash floods; in this case, rushing waters separate Malini from adults, forcing her to act alone. Knowing how much depends upon saving the rice, she leads the ox and cart into the safety of a barn, soothing the animal until the skies clear. La Fave's richly colored illustrations dramatically and effectively convey the contrast between the calm, sunny day and the intensity of the storm. Fullerton's writing is simple and straightforward, making use of onomatopoeia and poetic repetition, but the plot is rather slight and lacking in tension.
VERDICT For more compelling stories of children behaving with courage, turn to Linda Sue Park's The Firekeeper's Son and Rukhsana Khan's Ruler of the Courtyard.

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