After years of darkness, Usha is determined to recover the sun.
The only one in Usha’s town who remembers sunshine at all is her grandfather, and even he is starting to forget what it was like. The only thing he can tell Usha is that when he was a child, someone—he isn’t sure who—built a giant wall that blocked out the light. Determined to help her grandfather remember the feeling of sunshine on his skin, Usha sets out to find the wall. When she arrives at it, she unleashes her rage, commanding the bricks to come down. She remembers, then, that her grandfather said that yelling hadn’t stopped it from going up. She therefore tries whispering and singing. Voices on the other side of the wall respond, and eventually the wall comes down to reveal that the other side is full of children just like her. The book has a promising beginning, centering a brave, dark-skinned, South Asian girl determined to right an injustice, all in simple and appealing prose. Unfortunately, though, the plot implies that real, valid anger at injustices must be shaped into arguments that are quiet and gentle to actually make a change. This is particularly troubling given that Usha is a girl of color, possibly from the global south, and therefore already at risk of being socialized to ignore her very understandable rage.
Well meaning but flawed. (Picture book. 3-6)