A Dog Named Haku: A Holiday Story from Nepal

with Amish Karanjit and Nicole Karanjit. illus. by Ruth Jeyaveeran. 32p. further reading. glossary. maps. Millbrook. Sept. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781512432053.
Gr 1–4—Coauthored with her daughter and Nepali son-in-law, this winning story in verse by Engle explores a Hindu tradition during the five-day festival of Deepawali (also known as Swanti or Tihar, or, in India, Diwali or Deepavali). Following an earthquake earlier in the year, search and rescue dogs were used widely to find trapped survivors. Now, several months later, brothers Alu and Bhalu search the city of Kathmandu for "a stray dog—a kukur—to honor with food and gratitude." Finally, when the sky is dark and "sparkling with fireworks," the boys find a lonely puppy and bring her home, much to the delight of their sister, parents, and extended family. Inspired in part by the childhood experiences of Engle's son-in-law, as well as the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the story strikes just the right balance between warm family and holiday tradition, perseverance in the face of tragedy, cultural exploration, and animal rescue. Jeyaveeran's evocative illustrations are rendered in a combination of hand-drawn and digital imagery; bright pops of color found in clothing, lanterns, and fireworks stand out against largely dark backgrounds. The story highlights various celebratory traditions, and a note from the authors provides more information about Deepawali. Back matter also includes a glossary of Nepali words.
VERDICT An excellent choice for most collections.

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