To the tune of “Frère Jacques,” the book showcases Raksha Bandhan, a festival in northern India that celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters.
Two sisters busy themselves making a rakhi (the titular thread of love) and tying it to their brother. In return, their brother gives them a gift and some chum-chum (an Indian sweet). The book ends with a heartwarming spread showcasing family, friends, and neighbors around the world being bound by this thread of love. While obviously enjoyable for storytimes, the cadence of the song with these lyrics can be a bit challenging, and some poetic license has been taken with the wording, possibly to meet the meter. “Sister Kashi, Sister Kashi,” reads the text, “meri ban, meri ban.” The phrase “meri ban” is translated in the glossary as “my sister,” with an addendum that “behan” is “an alternate spelling”; many speakers of Hindi may well feel that “behan” is the standard rendering and “ban” an unfamiliar variation. Debut illustrator Hoang’s illustrations are infused with persimmon, magenta, and lime green. The children’s faces are disproportionately large, and they wear only traditional Indian garb. The backdrops indicate an Indian setting, with words in Hindi on shops and a cricket poster in the brother’s bedroom. Although the concluding map includes children likely of the Indian diaspora, it’s a shame the story itself is so visually limiting. The book ends with helpful instructions for making a rakhi.
Despite some shortcomings, the book carries the day on showcasing the beautiful traditions of Raksha Bandhan. (Picture book. 3-7)