The Sehgals’ newest picture book introduces young readers to Holi, a Hindu spring festival, through color, repetition, and onomatopoeia.
As the book opens, Chintoo and Mintoo—nicknames often given to young children in India or in Indian homes—are preparing for Holi, a holiday during which, among other things, celebrants douse each other with colored powder and water. The children collect flowers, such as hibiscus (“because hibiscus flowers make RED”) and irises (“because irises make BLUE”), and then crush the dried petals into powders to use to play with their parents, friends, and neighbors. “POOF!” the colors pop, and the revelers chant, “Holi, hai! Holi, hai!” (“It’s Holi! It’s Holi!”) Unlike the Sehgals’ text, which lacks rhythm and is quite dull, Harrison’s textured and cinematic illustrations are vivacious and dynamic, with renderings of humans that reflect her background in animation. Refreshingly, she represents children and adults with a wide variety of skin tones; India’s many browns are also on display here. This is the mother-and-son authorial team’s third collaboration (after A Bucket of Blessings, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong, 2016, and The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk, illustrated by Jess Golden, 2014), and while it is sharper than the duo’s previous books, it still falls flat. The book includes an authors’ note that provides further historical and cultural context about Holi, which may provide some classroom relevance.
Anodyne but useful. (Picture book. 3-6)