ON MARDI GRAS DAY by Fatima Shaik


Age Range: 4 - 8
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It is dawn on a day of street parties, and children are donning minimalist costumes (an underwater mask for a deep-sea diver, a cowboy hat to evoke a cowboy) so that “even those who love us must guess our identities.” Of course the children aren’t truly disguised: “I know you, Mardi Gras,” one friend calls from the sidewalk. By the fifth spread, readers understand that this is more than a children’s party; “Mardi Gras Indians live in our neighborhood,” and each emerges from “the door blinds of his small house like a spring flower opening.” Five of the double-page oil paintings are given over to actual parade scenes; the rest of the book features more domestic scenes of children in their homes and backyards during the long Mardi Gras day. The story is poetic, but puzzling to children new to the subject: Where is the story taking place? What are “Mardi Gras Indians,” and how to makes sense of the statement “A parade named Zulu will pass”? In read-aloud sessions, cover the author’s note in the back first, for a more succinct introduction to some of the customs of the New Orleans parade. Shaik’s narrative is deliberately child-centered, offering an insider’s view of the day but not quite succeeding in beckoning newcomers to it. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-8037-1442-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1999


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