Book Title: Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala Author/Illustrator: Meenal Patel Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press Age Range: 4 to 8 years
It’s one thing to be far from the country in which you were born; to leave everyone and everything you love behind. It’s another to never have been to that country; one that encompasses all the histories, cultures, and people that comprise your family and heritage.
In Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala, a young Indian-American girl learns about the vibrancy of India through her Babi Ba.
Every day after school, Priya runs home to make the rotli for their family’s evening meal. And every day, Priya asks Babi Ba, “What is India like?”
It is then that Babi Ba reminisces about all of the sights, sounds, and smells of her homeland. From the arches and domes of the buildings…
To the marigolds that hang on storefronts and the doorways of homes. Priya listens intently, finally asking, “Babi Ba, will you take me to India.” In which Babi Bi replies, “Maybe one day we will be able to go together.”
When winter arrives, Priya notices that, unable to go outside to pick the marigolds that grow in the garden, Babi Ba is feeling homesick for India.
The next day at school, Priya discovers a way to help Babi Ba feel better. As she cuts and sews a paper garland of marigolds, her curious schoolmates gather around her. She shares with them all the things that Babi Ba had told her about India.
Once home, the garland is hung above the doorway of Priya’s home for Babi Ba to enjoy. As Priya explains how her classmates helped her, Babi Ba tells her that “Sharing India with others is the very best way to carry it with you.”
This lovely picture book by author-illustrator Meenal Patel features her signature style of mixing patterns and lush colors, giving a beautiful depth to the story. She also provides wonderful back matter featuring the meanings, definitions, and pronunciations of elements found throughout the book. All together Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala is a charming celebration of the bond between grandparent and grandchild and the thread of heritage that connects them.
Book Title: Going Down Home with Daddy Author: Kelly Starling Lyons Illustrator: Daniel Minter Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Age Range: 4 to 8 years
As summer approaches, so does a yearly tradition practiced by many families: The Family Reunion. It’s a commemoration that brings generations together to celebrate the roots of the Family Tree, to acknowledge generations and ancestors past, and to pay tribute to the history of the important moments that keeps the family united.
This is the powerful message Lyons and Minter capture in their new book, Going Down Home with Daddy.
It’s reunion morning, and Lil Alan and Sis sleepily climb into the car as their daddy packs up to go down home. But Lil Alan’s excitement fades as he realizes he still doesn’t have something to share at the anniversary celebration.
As everyone gathers together, Lil Alan is reminded of all the things that symbolize his family history: the land they own that stretches so far you can’t see its end, the cotton grown on it that Granny used to make quilts to keep her children warm, the pecan trees Pa planted that the grandkids now climb.
As the anniversary celebration nears, Lil Alan starts to panic. But when Daddy tells him to “think with his heart,” he learns that the simple act of remembering can be the best family tribute of all.
When I first saw the cover of this book, I was awestruck; and that feeling didn’t stop once I began turning the pages. Minter’s use of rich, warm colors and dazzling patterns – which are the perfect stylings for Lyon’s sublime storytelling – pull you into the story like a warm embrace. Going Down Home with Daddy is a wonderful homage to family and tradition.