Mina vs. the Monsoon

illus. by Debasmita Dasgupta. 38p. Yali. Dec. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781949528985.
RedReviewStarK-Gr 3—It might be monsoon season in Mina's village in eastern India, but the soccer-loving girl is determined to chase away the gray weather so that she can get outside and shoot goals. Ammi suggests they remain indoors to avoid catching cold and celebrate the weather with chai and samosas. However, an impatient Mina believes that her mother just doesn't understand the excitement of playing the game and "that explosion of happiness when you score." As raindrops drum on the tin rooftop, the girl tries to disperse the clouds by playing the tabla (a percussion instrument), dressing up in a special outfit ("bright bindi, red-orange shalwar kameez, copper-brown henna, and silver anklets") and dancing to the beat of the rain, and performing a magic trick (with the help of her toy elephant). However, a special surprise—Mina discovers Ammi's childhood soccer jersey tucked away in a cupboard—reinforces a close family relationship and turns the day around. Urdu and Hindi words are woven into Guidroz's accessible text (and defined along with a pronunciation guide at book's end), and the narrative sparkles with genuine emotion and lyrical language. Featuring charismatic characters with expressive windowpane eyes, Dasgupta's vibrantly hued illustrations burst with emotion and action.
VERDICT Both words and pictures create context for the book's cultural and geographic setting, while effortlessly incorporating universal themes that speak to children everywhere. A winner for storytime or one-on-one sharing.

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