What happens when a young city girl wakes up early in her grandma’s village?
In the courtyard, she sees a large design of wavy lines enclosed in squares. There are graceful half-circles and curvilinear designs forming diamonds and teardrops. Grandma tells her about the custom of mixing rice flour and sugar and inviting ants and birds to share in this bounty as a good deed. Adding colored dyes, women create intricate designs to beautify exterior walls, courtyards and streets. The girl sees the designs everywhere. She wonders: “Where will I do a rangoli at our flat in the city?” Using a slate and chalk, Grandma demonstrates a design that she can replicate in her apartment hallway. The watercolor-and-pastel illustrations vary from full-bleed double-page spreads to smaller panels; some illustrations feature cartoonlike, wide-eyed people and animals, and others focus on the rangoli, both geometric and pictorial. Outside of the subtitle, there is no mention of place, although the illustrations picture Indian life. In India, where this book was originally published, this art may have seemed familiar. Here, children with no prior knowledge may still be intrigued by the designs and the custom, to which this slim book is a brief introduction.
The passing on of a traditional art from grandparent to grandchild is a worthy topic, but this short book provides too quick a glimpse of India and no real story development. (Picture book. 3-5)