Thursday, May 13, 2021

Review: Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Shegal

Today's review flies us over to India and the bright and colorful Festival of Colors. I, honestly, didn't know a thing about this festival until a few years ago and immediately loved the energy and joy involved. (And as a mom, wondered how that works with all those colors flying around). In other words, there's little I knew about this one. This book not only celebrates the festival but tells a bit about it and shows where the colors come from. And all the while, the illustrations allow life in India to shine through, too.

So, ready for the trip?

by Kabir Sehgal
Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Beach Lane Books
Picture Book 
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Learn all about Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors, in this lush picture book from bestselling mother/son duo Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal.

Spring is here, and it’s almost time for Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors. Siblings Mintoo and Chintoo are busy gathering flowers to make into colorful powders to toss during the festival. And when at last the big day comes, they gather with their friends, family, and neighbors for a vibrant celebration of fresh starts, friendship, forgiveness, and, of course, fun!

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                                               * bright illustrations
                                               * India's culture glides right in
                                               * explains about festival and how powder is created
                                               * teaches a bit about various flowers


The Festival of Colors is fascinating with the joyful street gatherings and explosion of colors. In these pages, the festival isn't only lightly explained, but the time and joy in creating the colored powder is presented in a way young readers will understand, and probably want to try themselves.

This book is directed toward those who already know a little about the Festival of Colors, or to those who are learning about it. A boy and girl join their parents in preparing for the big day. They gather several types of flowers, each one for its distinct and bright color. These are dried and ground down into a powder, and then, it's off to the festival.

The illustrations are nicely done. They subtly allow young listeners to gaze at a household and family, who prepares for the festival...and all the while, lets them visit daily life in India. The love and close relationship of the family radiates from the page as well as the excitement for the festival. In other words, these teach a bit while letting the fun and happiness come through.

The text is kept short enough to guarantee boredom doesn't appear and the word choice is fitting for the age group. There are some terms, which might need a bit of explaining, but that also allows listeners to learn more along the way (which is the point). Unfortunately, there aren't any more detailed explanations at the end of the book, which might help adults better understand the material themselves so as to give more insight. Still, that's not really a problem. I was surprised at the amount of time spent to show each flower and introduce it as the various colors were collected. So, there's a little botany, too. 

Anyone who wants to learn more about the festival will enjoy this read, and it's great for classroom settings as well. I definitely learned something along the way, too. And as already said, I can imagine kids will be inspired to try creating the powder themselves.

And here they are....

The Authors...
Surishtha Sehgal was a university professor for many years and now enjoys reading to children during story time. She is the founder of a nonprofit organization that promotes social responsibility among students, and she serves on the boards of two universities and a national arts center. She lives in Atlanta.

Kabir Sehgal started his class newspaper in second grade and has been writing ever since. A bestselling author of several books, he is also a jazz bassist and Grammy Award–winning producer. He lives in New York City. 

The Illustrator...
Vashti Harrison, author and illustrator of the bestselling Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, is an artist, author, and filmmaker with a passion for storytelling. She earned her MFA in film and video from California Institute of the Arts, where she snuck into animation and illustration classes to learn from Disney and DreamWorks legends. There she rekindled a love for drawing and painting. Now she uses her love for both film and illustration to craft beautiful stories for children.


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