CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 10 . . . . November 11, 2016
Malini wakes up excited to the sound of the bullock driver coming into her village. He and his ox are carrying a cart of rice seedlings ready to root. Malini is prepared, albeit nervous, to participate in planting the crops and is entrusted to watch the oxen and his load while the driver rests. Without warning, a great monsoon hits, stranding Malini and her charge without shelter. Despite her fear and the rising worry of her family calling to her, she digs deep and leads the large, frightened animal to higher ground and the protection of the barn. Malini's calm bravery has ensured that her family will maintain their income and food source for another season despite the scary flash flood.
With When the Rain Comes, Fullerton introduces children to a culture different from their own in a way that is engaging and full of relatable emotions. Malini is Sri Lankan, and, although her experience is in many ways very different from that of a Canadian child, some feelings and encounters transcend borders. Here, readers witness a child explore her own capacity for bravery when faced with a challenge. Fear, uncertainty, loyalty, and pride are all things to which children everywhere can relate. The rising intensity of the story creates a connection to the character as readers strive and hope alongside her that she reaches the barn and calms the beast. Guided conversation after the book would be rich, delving deeper into the child's personal experience with challenges and successes. What was at stake? What did it feel like to overcome the obstacle?
The true highlight of When the Rain Comes, however, is the artwork – big, luscious illustrations that own each page. LaFave demonstrates a mastery of colour, choosing a rich palate of purples and blues to depict the storm and creating depth with interesting colour blocking. From the brightly coloured spurfowl taking flight to the violent rain feverishly falling down, the images are unique and beautiful.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children's literature and writing.
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