Although set in faraway Sri Lanka, Fullerton’s rhythmic tale holds a universal message: that even the smallest and youngest among us can summon up the courage to face, and overcome, the most gargantuan challenges.
Little Malini is both nervous and excited to be planting rice crops in her agricultural community for the first time. She worries: “But what if / she does it wrong? / Will they grow strong?” Malini has no time to dwell when the bullock-cart driver leaves her with the load of seedlings pulled by an ox “big enough to crush her” while he takes a coffee break. Suddenly, dark monsoon clouds move in, the sky breaks open, and a river of rain rushes down the road separating Malini from the rest of the villagers. As the wind howls and the water rises, Malini is “scared frozen,” yet she realizes that everyone is counting on her. With all the courage and strength she can muster, she tugs the ox to higher ground, thus saving the seedlings and her village’s livelihood. Fullerton’s free verse dances across the page, urging readers forward through the narrative. “Her heart pounds / as loud as the rain / as it comes, / a waterfall / straight from the sky.” 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. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-9)