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AND YET YOU SHINE by Supriya Kelkar


The Kohinoor Diamond, Colonization, and Resistance

by Supriya Kelkar ; illustrated by Supriya Kelkar

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2024
ISBN: 9781536228298
Publisher: Candlewick

An account of the many lives of India’s Kohinoor diamond.

“A pair of brown hands” extract the fabled diamond from a river. The stone eventually becomes part of “the Peacock Throne,” finds its way onto an unnamed conqueror’s arm, and passes to a series of other unknown owners until it returns “back home— / the land where those brown hands / first unearthed you.” The diamond ends up in the custody of a 10-year-old boy—“scared and alone, / forcibly separated from his mother”—who is tricked into signing it away to a white man, presumably a British colonizer. Cut down much smaller than its original size, the diamond is embossed onto a British crown—a literal jewel in the crown. Why does the diamond shine throughout these trials and tribulations? The book’s narrator—who addresses the story to the diamond—ultimately concludes that it’s because the stone perceives its true worth. The collage illustrations are absolutely stunning, incorporating vibrant textures and colors that let this work sparkle like the titular diamond. The lyrical text is inspiring, and the use of second person is effective. The story’s lack of specificity, however, adds an ambiguity that detracts somewhat from its emotional resonance; readers will need to consult the thorough backmatter to learn, for instance, that in 1628, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had the Kohinoor diamond set in a throne shaped like peacocks.

The mesmerizing visuals will enchant, but the text will keep many readers at arm’s length.

(further reading, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 7-12)