Ritu Weds Chandni

Yali. Dec. 2020. 36p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781949528947.
PreS-Gr 3–This needed and valuable mirror text depicts a traditional Hindi community, where two brides are about to wed each other but not everyone approves. Ayesha, however, can’t wait for her favorite cousin Ritu’s wedding. When she and her family arrive, she notices that the rest of her extended family isn’t there; when she asks, she is told that many of them didn’t want to come because Ritu is marrying a woman, who will be leading the baraat, a festive wedding parade, typically a role reserved for a man. The baraat starts out fine until onlookers start jeering; a group of men on horseback holding signs protesting the wedding arrive and threaten the couple. The protesters somehow get a fire hose (this requires a suspension of belief given the folkloric-like illustrations) and soak the entire wedding party. Ayesha saves the day by leading the way back to the wedding ceremony; her love for her cousin shines here and throughout the book. Digital illustrations, although colorful, are stiff; characters look like avatars with rosy cheeks and one-dimensional expressions. Refreshingly, Hindi vocabulary is used freely throughout the book; the context is clear, and there is a glossary in the back. The plot can be difficult to follow in places; coupled with the static illustrations it may make this book a tough sell, but a necessary one.
VERDICT With a dearth of picture books authentically addressing marriage traditions within the South Asian community, and particularly LGBTQ+ couples, this is a welcome attempt at rectification.

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