Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 4 to 8
- Grade: k to 3
Malini, a young girl in a small Sri Lankan community, is anxious about the responsibility of helping with the monsoon-season rice planting for the first time. When a flash flood leaves her stranded alone with the ox cart full of rice seedlings, she summons unexpected courage to calm the ox and save her town’s rice crop.
It is time to plant the rice crop in Malini’s Sri Lankan community, and the little girl is both excited and nervous to help for the first time. What if she does it wrong? Will she be responsible if the crop fails? When the oxcart rumbles in loaded with seedlings, she reluctantly agrees to watch the big, imposing animal while the driver takes a break.
Suddenly, the skies go dark with monsoon rain. A flash flood pours down the road, separating Malini from the driver and her family. They are shouting for her to run for higher ground, but what about the rice? Summoning up courage she never dreamed she possessed, Malini resolves to save ox, cart, and seedlings, no matter what it takes.
Award-winning author Alma Fullerton tells Malini’s story in expressive free verse that vibrates with emotion and energy. The moods of Sri Lanka’s rainy season come alive as Kim La Fave, illustrator of the award-winning Shin Chi’s Canoe, uses a fresh style that is both contemporary and impressionistic to depict the courage of one little girl facing the power of a flash flood.
About the authors
Alma Fullerton was born in Ottawa Ontario, as one of seven children. Her dad was in the military so they moved when his postings changed, first to Trenton when she was two, then to Comox when she was twelve. Being dyslexic, she couldn’t read until grade four and didn’t enjoy reading at all until grade nine, when she discovered books that she really loved. Now that she is as an award-winning author, Alma visits schools to teach children that they, too, can overcome any obstacle.Her first three books are: In the Garage (2006); Walking on Glass (2007), which was named to the 2008 YALSA Quick Pick list; and Libertad (2008), which has won and been nominated for many awards, including the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature (finalist), the 2009 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award (finalist), the 2009 Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award (winner), the 2009 CLA Children’s Book of the Year Honor Book, the 2009 Golden Oak Award (winner), the 2009 Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award (winner), and the 2010 Silver Birch Award (shortlist).
Kim La Fave, a Governor General's Award-winning artist, is the illustrator of Amos's Sweater (by Janet Lunn) -- winner of the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award for illustration -- Follow That Star (by Kenneth Oppel), I Am Small (by Cherrie Fitch), the bestselling The Bones and Skeleton Book (by Steven Cumbaa) and many other children's books. He lives in Roberts Creek, BC.
- Commended, School Library Journal blog The Classroom Bookshelf: "Global Books to Teach Global Understanding" selection
- Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books List - Grades PreK-2
- Commended, South Asia Book Award Highly Commended Book
- Commended, ALA Children's Notable Books Discussion list selection
- Commended, School Library Journal blogger Betsy Bird's "2017 Picture Books" selection
- Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
- Commended, School Library Journal blogger Betsy Bird's "2017 Books I'm Really Looking Forward To" selection
- Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best" selection
Praise for When the Rain Comes
2018 ALA Children's Notable Books Discussion List selection
2018 South Asia Book Award Highly Commended Book
2018 USBBY Outstanding International Books List - Grades PreK-2 selection
2017 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
2017 School Library Journal blogger Betsy Bird's "2017 Picture Books" selection
2016 School Library Journal blogger Betsy Bird's "2017 Books I'm Really Looking Forward To" selection
2016 Resource Links "The Year's Best" selection
"Fullerton's free verse dances across the page, urging readers forward through the narrative...And LaFave's mood-appropriate colors, which range from the joyful sorbet hues of Malini's village to the brooding blues and grays of the monsoon, complete the package. A beautiful introduction to life and culture on a little-known island nation—and a delightful read whether for the first or the 100th time."—Kirkus Reviews
"Endnotes explain the realities of child labor, poverty, and a dependence on rice as a staple crop in Sri Lanka, and the book as a whole offers a powerful portrait of a child's bravery and perseverance."—The Hornbook Magazine
"It's a gratifying portrait of a child discovering her own strength: Malini, so nervous about learning to plant rice, is capable of far greater feats."—Publishers Weekly
"Large-scale illustrations highlight the sudden change from sunshine to rain, with first vertical and then diagonal streaks through the colors demonstrating the rain's ferocity. Malini's anxiety about helping with the planting and the sense of accomplishment she feels in saving the rice come through clearly in her facial expressions."—Booklist
"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..."—School Library Journal
"Filled with ear-pleasing rhythms and onomatopoeia, Alma Fullerton's vivacious free verse paints Malini's character with deft strokes, and stirringly describes the action. Kim La Fave's color-splashed illustrations set the scene and create a strong sense of motion...When the Rain Comes provides a vivid glimpse at life on an island country in Asia, as well as a satisfying look at a child who discovers the inner fortitude needed to overcome difficult circumstances."—School Library Journal collection "Reading Around the World | Picture Books"
"A fascinating slice of Southeast Asian life, the tempo and suspense build as the winds and rain whoosh and boom, crack and howl."—Foreword Magazine
"Rendered in pencil and watercolor, the illustrations depict the drama and danger of the wind, driving rain, and Malini's effort to protect the rice seedlings and soothe the ox."—ILA Literacy Daily, "Cultural Diversity in Children's and Young Adult Literature"
"This moving story of courage from award-winning author Alma Fullerton is told in lyrical free-verse and the sounds of the impending storm and Malini's narrow escape with the rice cart come alive through onomatopoeic description. Kim La Fave's dream-like illustrations imbue Sri Lankan life with a sense of magic....An inspiring story beautifully told, When the Rain Comes would be an enriching addition to most school library collections."—Resource Links
"Fullerton introduces children to a culture different from their own in a way that is engaging and full of relatable emotions....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...the images are unique and beautiful."—CM Magazine
"Poignantly written, When The Rain Comes provides insight into the diversity of life through Malini's weighty struggle to ensure prosperity for her community in the coming year."—Brigham Young University, Children's Book & Media Reviews
"What a beautiful book about such a terrible phenomenon!...The young protagonist in this picturebook has some real spunk and AGENCY. I think this is a wonderful book to share with young people, showing Malini's responsibility but also the danger of flooding."—Worlds of Words
"[Alma Fullerton] successfully conjures up the sights and especially the sounds of a day in Sri Lanka...[Kim La Fave] convincingly whips up the wind and slashes rain across the page to convey the frightening immediacy of a flash flood. Young readers will identify with Malini's trepidation in facing her new task, and they will cheer for her as she overcomes her own fear to save the day. When the Rain Comes is an engaging story in its own right but could also be used in a classroom setting to spark interest in Sri Lanka, its people, culture, geography, and climate."—Canadian Children's BookNews
"Free verse captures the sounds, sights, and experiences of Malini's first job."—Midwest Book Review
"This is a great book to have in a library that fosters multi-culturalism. The story is engaging and children will learn about the culture of Sri Lanka through this book."—Youth Services Book Review
"Alma Fullerton's rhythmic lines and sound scape of life and weather...carr[y] the story, along with Kim La Fave's stirring illustrations. From the brightly-coloured warmth of Malini's home life to the tumultuous gloominess of the storm of flashing water, wind and sound, Kim La Fave contrasts the two realities, echoing Alma Fullerton's cheerful and fearful situations....When the Rain Comes is a resoundingly effective addition to our diverse young CanLit collections..."—CanLit for LittleCanadians
"The illustrations and text in this book work really well together to highlight Malini's feelings and show the importance of rice to her village and the dangers of a monsoon. The back of the book tells a little bit more about Sri Lanka and how reliant the country's population is on rice."—Musings of a YA Reader
"[A] great way to introduce one of the many Asian cultures to our children so as to build in them respect and admiration for other nationalities and ways of life. I don't think my son has ever seen an ox before....This opened up a conversation about ox and how prevalent they are in some countries for agriculture. So although fiction, this book can be used as an educational tool as well. An excellent addition to any home and school library."—Library of Clean Reads
"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."—Sal's Fiction Addiction
"My heart started racing and I could feel Malini, and the ox's, anxiety rise and settle down. A beautiful book."—Book Time
"Unusual setting, striking illustrations, and an additional note telling more about Sri Lanka."—Orange Marmalade
"The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and, surprisingly, lyrical. The writing is, too, but even without words, this book would still be fairly easy to understand as well as moving."—Hit or Miss Books
When the Rain ComesThis book encourages young North American readers to consider the plights of children across the world who are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The story, set in Sri Lanka, will help readers understand the challenges of growing rice crops, the struggle of overcoming monsoon rains, and the dependence on animals to help with farming. This book can be shared with children as a strong example of perseverance and responsibility. A bonus feature of When the Rain Comes is the author’s poetic prose and the use of varied fonts to enhance the story.
Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Diversity Collection Selection 2017.