The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield
The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield
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Annotation: In 1915, the city of San Diego hired "rainmaker" Charles Mallory Hatfield to save their city from a drought, but when the town experienced one of the worst floods they ever had they refused to pay Hatfield for his services.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #111972
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition Date: 2015
Pages: 119 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-590-78990-3
ISBN 13: 978-1-590-78990-2
Dewey: 921
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Charles Mallory Hatfield claimed he could coax rain from the sky; in 1915, he promised to fill San Diego's Morena Reservoir. Brimner's well-paced account provides history of pluviculture and the people (mostly shysters) who practiced it. Hatfield considered himself a real scientist, though, and readers are tantalizingly left to contemplate whether he was mostly effective or mostly lucky. Excellent archival photographs appear throughout. Reading list, websites. Ind.
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 8 Up&12; In the early 1900s, California sewing machine salesman Charles Mallory Hatfield claimed he had developed a "scientific" method for producing rain. Dramatic newspaper accounts publicized his successes. Brimner now tells the enigmatic Hatfield's story, placing it into the context of an era defined both by widespread belief that science would conquer all problems, even the weather, and flimflam men who exploited a credulous public for fame and fortune. He discusses Hatfield's lifelong obsession with rain and efforts to control it and his contentious relationships with weather service scientists. In 1915, the city of San Diego hired Hatfield to produce enough rain to fill its reservoirs. As he began blowing his chemicals into the atmosphere in early 1916, the entire region was hit with record rainfall that destroyed dams, flooded the city, and caused considerable loss of life. Hatfield spent years battling with San Diego officials about his payment. He never divulged his methods, and when 20th-century flood and water projects provided stable water supplies, he eventually faded into obscurity. Brimner allows readers to decide if Hatfield was a miracle worker or a fraud. This well-written and attractive book, with its many double-page period photos includes much detail and explores a figure who might otherwise be a regional footnote to 20th-century history. VERDICT A well-designed, impeccably researched work.&12; Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Most kids have never heard of Charles Mallory Hatfield, but this fascinating biography will help remedy that. Hatfield was a rainmaker, or, as he preferred, a rain "coaxer." Using a top-secret mix of chemicals, Hatfield traveled the country at the turn of the last century, drawing rain from the skies with remarkable success. In 1915, he received a telegram from the San Diego city council. They needed a consistent source of water, but rainfall levels were only about 10 inches a year. Enter Hatfield, who was promised $10,000 if he could fill the Morena Reservoir. Most of the book is devoted to this particular job, a good news bad news affair. The rains came and came, but flooding caused a fortune in damages. Because Hatfield was secretive, the book is more about events and results than the man and his methods t with such noteworthy results, this works very well. The book's design is a standout, with intriguing historical photos filling the pages and a typeface that makes this invitingly easy to read. The only disappointment is never learning whether Hatfield's success came from secret formulas or serendipity, as the controversy rages on. Budding scientists may well take this as a challenge to find out more.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (Mon Jun 01 00:00:00 CDT 2015)
School Library Journal Starred Review (Mon Jun 01 00:00:00 CDT 2015)
Horn Book (Fri Apr 01 00:00:00 CDT 2016)
Science Books and Films
Wilson's Children's Catalog
Wilson's High School Catalog
Wilson's Junior High Catalog
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 106-107) and index.
Word Count: 13,983
Reading Level: 7.7
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 7.7 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 177657 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:11.6 / points:6.0 / quiz:Q67300
Lexile: 1160L

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 and refused to pay him. Was Hatfield really a rain wizard, or simply a fraud? Renowned author Larry Dane Brimner examines the man and the myth by relying on personal recollections from growing up in California, as well as extensive research. Readers will be captivated by Hatfield—a man once known as the Frankenstein of the air—and his secret rainmaking formulas. Includes author's note, source notes, and bibliography.

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