The Moon from Dehradun: A Story of Partition

S. & S./Atheneum. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665906791.
K-Gr 3–This picture book features the universal kid struggles of losing a doll, moving, and annoying little brothers set against the backdrop of the 1947 partition of India, into two independent nations---India and Pakistan. Azra and her family, who are Muslim, are getting ready to move to another city in five days. The little girl is unsure about the journey, but knowing that her beloved doll, Gurya, will be with her, makes the thought of it more bearable. When her Abba comes rushing home, they have to leave it all behind. In the hurry, Azra forgets Gurya, and blames her baby brother. As the family hastens to catch their train to Lahore, readers will see that they are one of millions trying to escape the chaos of the partition. As Azra’s family makes their treacherous migration, they meet others who have been displaced. Azra misses her doll, but eventually pushes through as she helps her brother get through their trial. When they arrive in Lahore, they find shelter at the home of a Hindu family who had their own parallel journey. Azra finds the doll of another little girl as readers see that same girl discover Gurya. Based on Shamsi’s own family story, this work features a heartrending narrative about the loss of a doll but also the loss of home. It also shows how something new can emerge out of heartbreak. With a limited palette of tans and blues, Lak’s arresting digital illustrations capture the pandemonium of the traumatic large-scale event with the same detail and care as the turmoil caused by a missing toy. Back matter includes a glossary, background information, an author’s note, and a map.
VERDICT A great choice for classroom use or shared one-on-one, this is a must-have for every library.

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