A treasure that reaches far beyond the traditional board-book audience.

RAMADAN

From the Celebrate the World series

This festive board book for toddlers, preschoolers, and early-elementary–age children introduces the practices of and meaning behind Ramadan, the Muslims’ month of fasting.

From the timing of the month around the crescent moon to the physical practice of fasting during daylight hours, this sturdy little book is packed with almost everything young children should know about Ramadan. Many nonfiction books about Ramadan explain the practices, but few give both facts and feelings as this book does, which is appropriate for both Muslims and non-Muslims. Eliot evokes the spirit of Ramadan, “a time to reflect on ourselves, to be thankful, and to help others.” The decorative illustrations show families diverse in skin color, hair texture, and attire as they celebrate, work, play, and pray in societies around the world. The vibrant primary colors pop against blue and orange backgrounds, and the floral patterns and the stylized representation of the natural world strengthen this volume. Only the reasons for fasting are a bit watered down for a general audience: “We fast because we know that there are many people who are less fortunate than us. We appreciate how lucky we are.” This is more a benefit of fasting than the religious reason, but it is easily understood. The book ends with the same bittersweet emotions felt at the end of Ramadan: “We will remember to love our family, pray, and give back to others all throughout the year.”

A treasure that reaches far beyond the traditional board-book audience. (Board book. 2-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0635-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

From the Celebrate the World series

The Celebrate the World series spotlights Lunar New Year.

This board book blends expository text and first-person-plural narrative, introducing readers to the holiday. Chau’s distinctive, finely textured watercolor paintings add depth, transitioning smoothly from a grand cityscape to the dining room table, from fantasies of the past to dumplings of the present. The text attempts to provide a broad look at the subject, including other names for the celebration, related cosmology, and historical background, as well as a more-personal discussion of traditions and practices. Yet it’s never clear who the narrator is—while the narrative indicates the existence of some consistent, monolithic group who participates in specific rituals of celebration (“Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes—and ourselves!”), the illustrations depict different people in every image. Indeed, observances of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the people who celebrate it, which neither the text nor the images—all of the people appear to be Asian—fully acknowledges. Also unclear is the book’s intended audience. With large blocks of explication on every spread, it is entirely unappealing for the board-book set, and the format may make it equally unattractive to an older, more appropriate audience. Still, readers may appreciate seeing an important celebration warmly and vibrantly portrayed.

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3303-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Amid inconsistencies of format and information, the illustrations end up giving the most clarity about this festival.

DIWALI

From the Celebrate the World series

Diwali, the festival of lights, a five-day celebration that has many different forms, is celebrated in different ways across India and in many other countries.

This board book cursorily presents the different rituals associated with this celebration of the Hindu New Year, including getting the house ready to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; decorating the house with rangoli and diyas; and celebrating with family, friends, fireworks, and good food. The text is simple and gives only very basic information. “On the fifth and final day of Diwali, we celebrate brothers and sisters. The lifelong bond between siblings is special, and we honor that.” The illustrations show four different sets of siblings celebrating each other in different ways, none of which are mentioned in the text, making it difficult for younger readers to understand the complexity of the celebration. Sreenivasan’s illustrations are colorful, detailed, and authentic, and they carry the book. They feature happy and smiling dark-haired people with a range of skin tones, diverse in ethnicity and dress. In bright, vivid colors, intergenerational families and friends from different regions come alive, dressed up in their colorful best, celebrating and enjoying the festival together in different ways. The board format of this title does not match the age range and conceptual level of the text.

Amid inconsistencies of format and information, the illustrations end up giving the most clarity about this festival. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1990-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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