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The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield
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The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In December 1915, San Diego’s leaders claimed the town’s reservoirs were nearly dry. Knowing the city would not survive and grow unless it had water, they hired Charles Mallory Hatfield, whose skills at making rain were legendary. But when torrents and torrents of rain came, disaster struck. Roads were closed, people drowned, and dams burst. The town elders blamed Hatfield ...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Calkins Creek (first published September 1st 2015)
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3.24  · 
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 ·  63 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I thought Hatfield was an odd character to be writing a children's biography about. I didn't think there'd be a whole lot to write about him, but I was wrong. I thought he would turn out to be a fraud, like many of the rainmakers were at that time, but he appears to have been able to deliver the goods. He started out as a sewing machine salesman, but his interest in chemistry lead him to try making rain by evaporating huge trays of chemicals elevated on platforms. No one knows which chemicals he ...more
Engagingly written in simplistic, relatable language, accompanied by numerous telltale photographs of Charles Hatfield - the man, the myth, and his legendary rainmaking tradecraft - The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield . I thought it a delightfully good read. Author Larry Brimner gives young readers an abbreviated and primarily balanced look at Hatfield's childhood, adult years, water dilemmas of southern California, his secretive 'rain tickling' formul ...more
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
This was the most unique subject for a biography that I came across during my 2015 reading of 100+ biographies for kids and teens. Was he a scientific genius, or a charlatan who was just lucky at weather forecasting? Have you ever heard of "pluviculture"? No? Me neither, until I read this book! That's the art of making it rain. Charles Mallory Hatfield "coaxed" clouds to rain with a mix of chemicals he set out on towers. Cities suffering from drought hired him to make it rain, and he got paid if ...more
Aug 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book- most likely because I'm evaluating it for a specific reason.

I enjoyed The Rain Wizard. It was a fascinating story that focuses on a person and a concept that I am not familiar with. I didn't even know that Rainmaking was a thing that people got paid for in the early 1900s. The entire book was engaging, I never had to pull myself back into the book from wandering thoughts. The photographs that Brimner decided to use were perfect- helping to bring the locati
I purchased this to accompany the exhibition the Main Library had on the Rain Wizard. Since it was local history....or legend....I got a fair number of copies. Hopefully they will be useful. The story is that this guy, Charles Hatfield, claimed to be able to produce rain on command. Brimner tells the story mostly from newspapers and other primary sources. At the end he notes that others, scientifically, have made it rain as well, leaving it up to the reader to believe this or not. I am glad that ...more
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Politics get in the way of verbal contract and basically prevents a man from collecting his pay. What is astounding is that the man in question, Charles Mallory Hatfield did exactly what he was hired for, just a bit too well, and therein lay the problem.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
interesting this happened.
A drought in California is something that we are all too familiar with today. It sure would be nice if we could just hire someone to make some rain to keep our plants alive. Well, the city of San Diego hired Charles Hatfield, a well-known "rain maker" to address the droughts in the early 1900s. He agreed to accept $10,000 if he produced 50 inches of rain, and nothing if less than 40. He claimed not to be a sorcerer, as some thought, but a scientist, and he spent all day mixing chemicals to try t ...more
This fascinating account of a man who claimed that he could make it rain is accompanied by huge archival photographs that heighten readers' interest in this true story, set in the early 1900s. Charles Mallory Hatfield was a sewing machine salesman by trade but a coaxer of moisture from the skies in his free time. The author conjectures the possible inspiration for Hatfield's chemical concoctions and towers built to persuade clouds to let loose rainfall, but since he took the actual composition o ...more
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the early 1900s, Charles Mallory Hatfield used a smelly concoction of chemicals to ‘make rain’. Often within hours of his work, the area would receive rain. He insisted he was not a rainmaker. He described his work by saying, “It is simply a matter of working in harmony with the natural elements….. There are times when the clouds need tickling. If one knows how to tease or coax them a trifle, the results are often pleasing.” In areas hard hit by drought, his services were a sorely needed mira ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Whoa. I had no idea that there was ever a profession that claimed to make it rain. Then I read this book. Seriously. It was so interesting! I had so many questions that will never be answered. What was his special formula? How did he time everything right to make it seem like he helped it to rain? How did he get away with it for so long? Would anyone believe this in modern times? Would I have believed it had I lived back in the early 1900s? I wanted to know the answers! I even did some extra res ...more
Tells the story of a little-known historical figure who sold rain harnessing talents for over a decade until his skills possibly lead to a flood that killed people and damaged homes. Recommend to folks who like the strange-but-true stories, like the Molasses Flood or Ripley's books.

I liked the book until I got to the Additional Reading page and saw the author cited a Wikipedia article for future reading. I still liked the book, but I can't get over the inclusion of that resource, regardless of
A photo essay biography about Charles Mallory Hatfield, known as a rainmaker, and his work to coax rain from clouds. With a compelling narrative and accessible text, this well-research story poses the question whether Hatfield was responsible for the San Diego Flood which causes thousands of dollars in damages. This will be especially appreciated by readers interested in climate experiments and early 20th century history.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction
Charles Hatfield's life is fascinating and I like how this book presents his story. While I think the book will be of interest to teens, I wish this book was written for a slightly younger audience. The reading level is listed at 6.8, but I think it is actually a bit higher. The sentence structure throughout the book is complex and often confusing. This could have been easily avoided through better editing so that the work could appeal to a wider audience.
Stephanie Bange
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Perhaps I am being a bit hard on Brimner, but that's because I have come to expect outstanding work from him. As I read this book, I kept wondering who he thought would pick this up to read it. It was interesting and certainly relevant with California's drought situation, but he never really gave me enough to draw a conclusion whether or not Hatfield was genuine or a charlatan. Lots of photos, well-documented, but Hatfield still remains a mystery.
Ariel Cummins
Nov 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: kidslit, nonfiction
An interesting look into rainmakers in general, and this particular flood. I loved the photographs included, but the placement of the full-page photos often felt like it interrupted the text and made the flow of the book feel off. Definitely recommended to kids who are interested in the 1920s, or people fascinated with (maybe?) con men.
Alexa Hamilton
Nov 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, tween
An interesting read about Charles Hatfield, a name I'd heard but could never place. I think this story will be intriguing to some, though I wish it included more of the modern day science about cloud seeding. I realize we may never know if what Hatfield did actually caused rain, but I would love to know more about how it could have actually worked based on science, not Hatfield's conjecture.
Molly Dettmann
May 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Pretty interesting story. Nothing super special about this book though. With almost a quarter of it being large, full page spreads of photos it's a quick read. It briefly goes over Charles' early life and other biographic details, and is mostly about the flood of 1916. It also still leaves the mystery of whether Charles Hatfield could actually made it rain or not.
Matt Glaviano
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, juvenile-non
Really didn't do much for me. The pictures were good, the text OK. But I didn't really feel like it had that much to offer.
Dawn Moews
Apr 19, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: literacy, n1
(16: 0, 1, 0)
Top 10 Science 7 Health Books for Youth 2015 (Booklist)
Mary Farrell
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
The colors and design of this book made it very difficult for me to read. I found it jarring and hard on the eyes.
Andrea Labonte
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
great pictures
Cynthia Shutts
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Oct 30, 2015
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Karen Murphy
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Mckenzie Summa
rated it it was amazing
Sep 20, 2017
Robin Stansel
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Oct 17, 2017
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Kim Bohac
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May 13, 2018
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Larry Dane Brimner is the recipient of the 2018 Robert F. Sibert Award for the most distinguished informational book for children for his title Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961. He is known for his well-researched, innovative, and award-winning nonfiction for young readers, and is the author of multiple acclaimed civil rights titles, including Strike!: The Farm Workers' Fight for Their Rights ...more