Recently I posted on my Facebook page a couple images from books I was promoting that day. One was a book I had posted here before, The Night Before Eid: A Muslim Family Story, by Aya Khalil and the other What Rosa Brought by Jacob Sager Weinstein. Considering current events, I wanted to promote love, positivity and acceptance. And I cannot think of two better books to show this. Except maybe Once Upon a Sari by Zenia Wadhwani. Or Come and Join Us! 18 Holidays Celebrated All Year Long by Lize Kleinrock. In other words, I am lucky to be able to find so many books to talk about.
First, What Rosa Brought is a sweet story about a horrific time in Austrian and world history. A young girl, Rosa, and her family must leave when the Nazis arrive in her village. Austria is her only home and she cannot imagine leaving it or her beloved grandmother. She is allowed to bring a few things, but what will she? However, because of her fathers talents, and clever mind, they are able to help others and find special rewards for their efforts. Eliza Wheeler’s illustrations are not overly bold, but not muted. They set the tone and use earth colors to bring to life this arc of hope and strength. (Read via an online reader copy, due mid November 2023.)
A little less serious, but equally wonderful we have Come and Join Us!: 18 Holidays Celebrated All Year Long by Liz Kleinrock and illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat. Currently available, I read via an online reader copy. This book is filled with different types of holidays and how they are significant to other cultures. We tend to celebrate winter holidays as our “main” or “big” holiday in the US. But around the world there are events in every season, and all equally important and wonderful. Some we might know, or at least heard of, such as Rosh Hashanah, and others might be new, such as Diwali. Different cultures, religions, and traditions come alive on the page in bright colors and accessible text.
The book Once Upon a Sari by Zenia Wadhwani is more subtle in how diversity is shown, but is a wonderful learning experience. Our narrator, caught playing with her mothers saris, assumes her mother will be angry; but instead learns she did the same thing when she was young. And like her mother, must remember that each sari has a unique story. We find one important sari that is so tightly folded in a bag, the creases will never iron out, yet, the story is the most powerful of them all. Amazingly bright illustrations by Avani Dwivedi that are sweet, simple, but accent the history of a family and show we can hold their past near us. Due May 2024, read as online reader copy.