Author/illustrator Linenthal (Look Look Outside, 2012, etc.) turns to the Silk Road in this picture book.
Young Jaya’s mother has been summoned to King Kanishka’s palace to bake her famous apricot cake for his birthday celebration. Jaya is sad to see her go, but Mama leaves her with a necklace of three golden coins. After waving goodbye, Jaya searches for her father, only to discover that he, too, has instructions from the king. He must carve a magnificent statue of the peaceful Buddha, a figure he has never seen. Jaya makes a wish to know what this mysterious Buddha looks like, and the great god Shiva appears from one of the coins on her necklace to aid her. Jaya and her father complete the statue and then must convey it to the palace. On their journey, they encounter more obstacles, which they overcome through the power of Jaya’s necklace and the help of the gods Inanna and Hercules. This fun, engaging read-aloud tale offers plenty of action (“From out of the coin leapt the strongest of the gods, Hercules, carrying a ferocious-looking lion skin”). The adventure is richly illustrated by Linenthal in bright, celebratory colors. At the end of the story, there is useful historical information about the Kushan Empire and the multicultural nature of the Silk Road as well as a recipe for Mama’s apricot cake.
An enjoyable tale that should spark conversations about the ancient world and diverse cultures.