Thursday, January 4, 2024

Today's read... Diwali in My New Home by Shachi Kaushik

As a holiday read, today's book might seem to be a better fit near October/November, but there are aspects which should fit to every time of year. Not only is it fun to learn about different cultures and their celebrations, but it also reminded me of our own family celebrations while living in Europe. For example, Thanksgiving held little meaning where we lived, but it didn't take much to make it a very special holiday with friends we met there. I always had to smile at how much they looked forward to it each year and would even dress up in cocktail dresses and suits with ties when they came. 

Let's see if this read radiates as much goodness and warmth as our 'exported' holidays did.

by Shachi Kaushik
Illustrated by Aishwarya Tandon
Beaming Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Priya loves being with family and friends to watch fireworks and celebrate Diwali. But this year Priya and her parents are living in the United States, and no one seems to know about the holiday. Priya misses the traditions in India. But as she strings lights outside and creates rangoli art, Priya introduces the festival of lights to her neighbors. And even though the celebration is different this year, it's still Diwali. A heartwarming story of celebrating in a new place and sharing the Hindu festival of lights with those unfamiliar with the holiday.



The joy of the holiday radiates with inviting warmth while introducing the meaning behind it along the way.

Priya has always loved celebrating Diwali in India, but now that her family has moved to the States, nothing is the same. Fireworks, traditional clothing and all of the lights are nowhere to be seen as she goes to school. But when she returns home, her parents have already begun to do the best they can to celebrate the day. And while it doesn't seem to be enough, at first, the celebration blossoms and blooms.

This is a brightly illustrated book, which invites in not only thanks to the lovely illustrations. The first pages draw in as they briefly show how Diwali is celebrated in India...and readers will wish they could see it themselves with the bright fireworks and colors. Then, it switches to Priya's life in the US and more familiar scenes. This shift makes it easy to understand Priya's disappointment, and when things take an unexpected turn, it's hard not to smile right along with her. As the story goes along, the author drops in facts and explanations surrounding the celebration. It ends with plenty of good vibes and a sense of community-warmth, which leaves a smile on the face.

This makes a nice read-aloud, especially in group settings. The text is short enough to keep boredom at bay, while still bringing everything across clearly and understandably. At the end of the book, there's a short explanation of the holiday (for the adults/guardians/caretakers/teachers) and this is followed by a quick glossary for those words/terms which might be unfamiliar to listeners. So, there are more than a few enjoyable aspects surrounding this read.

And here she is...

Shachi Kaushik is a writer and a storyteller. Part of the Children's Media Industry, she creates content for children that is entertaining, enlightening, and educational. She has worked on the YouTube Original Animated Series ‘The Guava Show’ and ‘CoComelon.’ Her debut ‘Diwali In My New Home’ has received accolades and praise worldwide. The book has been named a 2022 Foreword Indies Book of the Year Awards finalist in the Picture Books, Early Reader category! and is the Winner of The Book Fest Awards in the Children’s Diversity - Multicultural category. The book has also been featured on various blogs, media, and even on the bookshelf of a wellknown Canadian political commentator Keith Baldrey at Global News.

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