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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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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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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