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.
Author: Alexandra Penfold Illustrator: Suzanne Kaufman Publisher: Knopf Books for Young People Age Range: 4 – 8 years
One of my favorite days of the year is finally here: Multicultural Children’s Book Day! #ReadYourWorld
Founded by co-creators Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen, this day was created to amplify and celebrate books a desperately needed for a multicultural world view in children’s literature. They define multicultural children’s books as:
· Books that contain characters of color as well as main characters that represent a minority point of view.
· Books written by and author of diversity or color from their perspective. Search #ownvoices to discover diverse books written by diverse authors.
· Books that share ideas, stories, and information about cultures, race, religion, language, and traditions. These books can be non-fiction, but still written in a way that kids will find entertaining and informative.
For this week’s book review, I found the incredibly inspiring book All Are Welcome. Sparse in words, what is there carries an impact that lingers after the last page has been turned. As we follow a group of children through their school day, Penfold reminds us that differences are what makes a community:
“No matter how you start your day. What you wear when you play. Or if you come from far away.
All are welcome here.”
If you read my last book review, you’ll know immediately why I fell in love with this book. Aside from the beautiful message and art, Penfold and Kaufman pay homage to the great poet, Dr. Maya Angelou. In the below illustration, we see a teacher (who looks a lot like Angelou) reading Life Doesn’t Frighten Me. It gave me goosebumps the moment I saw it.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by the talented Suzanne Kaufman, embodies everything the Multicultural Children’s Book Day strives to achieve. It is a beautiful portrayal of how every child should feel: that no matter what, they deserve to have a safe place in this world.
"We’re part of a community. Our strength is our diversity. A shelter from adversity.