Diwali in My New Home

Beaming. Sept. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781506484075.
PreS-Gr 2–This charming picture book deftly introduces the various rituals of Diwali in an appropriate way for young readers, while touching only briefly upon the religious aspects of the festival. The book opens with a view of Priya, a smiling South Asian American girl, holding up a colorful beaded fabric. Although there are few words on the page, which is perfect for beginners, the illustrated background of her bedroom has plenty of visual cues about Priya’s identity that close readers will notice and enjoy. For instance, there is a South Asian doll on Priya’s bed, a Taj Mahal poster on her wall, and her traditional dress hangs from her closet door. Readers will also enjoy the sly nod to Priya’s new American lifestyle—her name in rainbow sticker decals, a floral backpack on the floor, sneakers discarded, and bedroom slippers on her feet. This opening image sets the stage for the story: Priya’s confusion about her new bicultural identity and, for the first time, having to live away from India for Diwali, while trying to maintain that connection. Throughout the story, the author introduces a diverse cast of characters into what becomes a blended Indian-American celebration that highlights the way difference doesn’t have to be less or more, just different. Back matter includes a glossary and an author’s note describing the holiday.
VERDICT An excellent recommendation for a class read-aloud, with frequent pauses or second reading to analyze the detailed pictures.

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