When Rubina is invited to a birthday party, her mother is nonplussed: “What’s a birthday party? Why do they do that?” Different cultures, different traditions. Then Mother steps in it by requiring Rubina to bring her little sister, Sana, who makes a hash of the party and eats Rubina’s red lollipop party favor. “I don’t get any invitations for a really long time,” laments Rubina. Then Sana gets an invite, and the same demand is made. Rubina, though, serving as a cultural bridge, gently suggests that it’s not appropriate, and Mother relents. The payback? Sana gives Rubina her green lollipop favor. “Almost everything in this story really happened,” says Rukhsana Khan. “I told this story at a bookstore event. My older sister was in the audience. When I was done she said, ‘Wait a minute. You never gave me that big green lollipop!’ It’s too late to make it up to her with a lollipop, so I wrote her this story instead.” The plainspoken narrative goes straight to the heart with its directness and honesty, while Sophie Blackall’s artwork is awash in emotions. The perspectives swirl and shift, yet the characters are as delicate as porcelain dolls. “I had a lovely time referencing antique Persian miniatures and combining contemporary patterns and colors to hint at the melding cultures,” says Blackall.
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Big Red Lollipop
Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Viking / March / 9780670062874 / $16.99 / ages 4-8