Monday, December 10, 2018

Book of the Week: The Night Diary



by Veera Hiranandani

Dial, 2018

272 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2851-1

 

Ages 10-13


When Nisha and her twin brother Amil turn twelve, Nisha receives a notebook from her family’s beloved cook, Kazi.  She uses it as a diary, writing entries in the form of letters to her mother, who died when the twins were infants. Observant, sensitive Nisha is an excellent writer, but anxiety makes it difficult for her to speak. India has recently been freed from British rule, and when tensions among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs erupt in her hometown of Mirpur Khas, Nisha fears for her family’s safety. Nisha and Amil’s mother was Muslim, but their father and grandmother are Hindu, putting them at great risk when their part of India becomes Muslim Pakistan. Nisha observes that her “childhood would always have a line drawn through it, the before and the after.” Forced to leave their comfortable life—and Muslim Kazi—behind, the family flees on foot, setting off across the desert for the “new India” with only a few jugs of water in hand. They encounter many dangers on their harrowing journey, only to arrive at a place that is not home, and where they have nothing but one another. Nisha’s diary entries effectively communicate not only the profound pain of loss and separation faced by this family during a tumultuous period of Indian history, but also the comfort of learning how to express love and gratitude for one another. (MCT)  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 3, 2018

Book of the Week: The Patchwork Bike



by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd 


Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2018
36 pages

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0031-7


Ages 5-8


A girl enthusiastically describes her antics with her brothers, with riding the bike they built themselves her favorite of all they do. The bike is comprised of found objects: “handlebar branches that shicketty shake … tin can handles and wood-cut wheels…and a bell that used to be Mum’s milk pot.” That it is handmade out of economic necessity, sometimes requiring repairs relying on more ingenuity, is something that readers and listeners can infer, but it has no relation to the siblings’ pleasure and delight, which is absolute. Set in a village on the African continent, “at the edge of the no-go desert,” under the “stretching-out sky,” the story featuring a Muslim family celebrates creativity, imagination, and universal joy in play. The fresh, playful use of language is perfectly suited to its theme. The same is true of the acrylic-on-recycled cardboard art, in which the use of shadow and light suggests the hot sun on every page. Informative notes from both author and illustrator speak more to the story’s themes, and intentional connections the artist made between the African setting and characters and African Americans in the United States, including a “BLM” license plate. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center