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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DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

From the Celebrate the World series

The traditions and history of one of Mexico’s most important holidays are introduced in this latest of Eliot’s Celebrate the World series.

From setting up the flower-festooned altars to decorating the calaveras, the preparations depicted involve entire communities over several weeks. Characters in cowboy hats, sombreros, and baseball caps place the final touches on skeletons in full lucha libre regalia or spangled mariachi outfits. However, instead of accurately using Mexico’s name for the holiday, Día de Muertos, Eliot uses the English back-translation, “Día de los Muertos,” as is common in the U.S. even though the story evidently takes place in Mexico. Also, aside from stating that the celebration “is an ancient tradition,” there is no mention of its Indigenous, pre-European/Christian roots nor does the book actively distinguish between Día de Muertos and Halloween. The first-person narration vacillates between child and adult perspectives. “We do all this to celebrate the beauty of life and death rather than mourn it.” Gutierrez’s mixed-media illustrations are convulsive, crowded panes of frenetic activity. Exaggerated facial features border on stereotypical caricatures—snouts and bug eyes abound. Contributing to the crowded page design is the unfortunate choice of board rather than picture-book format. Consequently, the initial perception is that this series is geared toward toddlers, when it is the school-age child who would most benefit from the information in this book.

Pass. (Board book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1515-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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The true meaning of the holiday season shines here.

RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE

Kids teach a valuable lesson about community spirit.

A city block is ablaze with red and green lights for Christmas; one house glows blue and white for Hanukkah. This is where Isaac, a Jewish boy, lives, across the street from best friend Teresa, excitedly preparing for Christmas. They love lighting up their homes in holiday colors. After an antisemitic bigot smashes a window in Isaac’s house, Isaac relights the menorah the next night, knowing if his family doesn’t, it means hiding their Jewishness, which doesn’t “feel right.” Artistic Teresa supports Isaac by drawing a menorah, inscribed to her friend, and placing the picture in her window. What occurs subsequently is a remarkable demonstration of community solidarity for Isaac and his family from everyone, including the media. Galvanized into defiant action against hate, thousands of townspeople display menorahs in windows in residences and public buildings. This quiet, uplifting tale is inspired by an incident that occurred in Billings, Montana, in 1993. Readers will feel heartened at children’s power to influence others to stand up for justice and defeat vile prejudice. The colorful illustrations, rendered digitally with brushes of the artist’s devising, resemble scratch art. Isaac and Teresa are White, and there is some racial diversity among the townspeople; one child is depicted in a wheelchair. An author’s note provides information about the actual event.

The true meaning of the holiday season shines here. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-087-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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