The Light Within You

Two Lions. Sept. 2023. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781542039123.
PreS-Gr 3–In a joyous opening scene, a young girl named Diya anticipates traveling to India to visit Nani, her grandmother, for Diwali. Diya is homesick, but rather than zooming in on her disorientation and otherness of being in an American classroom, the book skims the topic lightly, giving it one spread before refocusing on her journey to India. Mehra and Nair are exhaustive in creating the atmosphere, providing: descriptions of the preparations for the festival; cute drawings of food, with accurate food names that provide instant appeal for snack-loving children and adults; illustrations of bazaars and buildings that could inspire classroom connections to geography and architecture; and more. There is a little something for all readers over the next few pages. Diya’s emotions dim as she anticipates the loneliness she will feel when she returns home. In that bittersweet moment, Nani tells her, “Diwali is more than a festival. It’s the light within you. Your inner light is your special spark! It will bring you joy and brighten the world around you, too!” This sentiment inspires Diya to share her traditions when she returns to the United States, ending the book with an uplifting yet realistic note. Back matter includes an author’s note about the religious background of Diwali, a glossary, and a poem that could provide further extensions and connections in the classroom.
VERDICT Recommended for all libraries for display during the holidays, especially to reflect the Indian diaspora or immigrant experience.

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