Soundar’s rhyming picture book gives readers an overview of the Hindu celebration of Diwali as it is celebrated in large parts of North India and by the North Indian diaspora.
Diwali is celebrated on the night of the new moon, and so after “Grandpa watches the waning moon” and notes that “the festival is coming soon,” an Indian boy and girl help their family clean and decorate the house. Then they all don new clothes, sing hymns and light lamps together, and exchange gifts and sweets with their neighbors, all in celebration of the holiday. Family members wear a combination of traditional Indian and Western attire; the suburban setting looks Western. It ends with a joyful greeting: “Shubh Diwali, to one and all. / We wish you joy, big and small!” Soundar’s use of “Shubh” in the title—meaning “auspicious” or “holy”—instead of “Happy” is welcome, as is Chua’s inclusion of neighborhood diversity (white and black families as well as a person using a wheelchair). As an entry on the holidays shelf, it breaks little new ground, but North American shelves hardly overflow with Diwali titles. An author’s note explaining the regional and religious differences in the celebration of Diwali across South Asia and the diaspora and a glossary of common terms provide readers with additional scaffolding.
A solid introduction to a holiday celebrated by millions. (Picture book. 4-8)