My Diwali Light

Little, Brown. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316339339.
K-Gr 3–Many picture books about Diwali have recently been published; what sets this one apart is its mixture of both traditional and new ways to celebrate the holiday in a secular nation. Diwali is Devi’s favorite time of year because that means there will be sweets, new clothes, jewelry, bindis, marigolds, diyas, rangoli, lights, and sparklers—but most of all, her family will be hosting a big party. The book has good pacing, starting from the ways in which Devi’s family prepares for Diwali. Devi cleans her room and makes food with Nani, Papa, and Mama. Then, they commemorate by gathering and conducting a puja. The story presents both the celebration of Diwali and also the cleansing, prayers, and offerings involved. Mirchandani equates Diwali with collectivity, showing that the joy of the holiday can be shared with family and friends inside and outside of the culture. The illustrations are collage-style, which is fun and colorful for children, but may be a bit simplistic. Kelkar pieces together actual fabric patterns, but the intricacy of clothing like sarees and salwar kameez, and jewelry like tikkas and naths, are lost in these illustrations. Back matter includes notes from both Mirchandani and Kelkar, where they share their personal connections to the holiday.
VERDICT The authenticity and flow of the narrative makes this a great addition to a South Asian collection. Fans of Jyoti Rajan Gopal’s American Desi, also illustrated by Kelkar, will enjoy this book.

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