Shubh Diwali! by Chitra Soundar ill by Charlene Chua
Diwali, a five-day Hindu festival, commences with the new moon on the darkest night of fall. The picture book Shubh Diwali! introduces young readers to this festival of light.
A multigenerational family dressed in western clothing prepare and decorate their home in anticipation of the holiday. Observance includes wearing new traditional clothing, telling stories, ringing bells, and lighting lamps.
Soundar's rhyming couplets provides a glimpse into the celebration. Back matter includes an Author's Note which introduces Diwali in more detail with her personal recollections, a brief description of each of the Five Days of Diwali and a Glossary.
Chua's illustrations feature wide-eyed family and friends who have a variety of skin tones and manner of dress. Included are depictions of individuals with disabilities.
A complementary color palette that is predominantly various shades of gold and purple accentuate the night sky and contrast with the dazzling fireworks and lamp light. Interior scenes in warm yellows and golds reinforce the warmth and closeness of family and friends.
Wide-eyed wonder of the children's illuminated faces on the cover is particularly striking.
Dessert Over Darkness
Shrikhand (Strained Sweet Yogurt)
Shrikhand is a creamy yogurt-based dessert from western India made simply by straining yogurt and sweetening it. The yogurt is traditionally strained by pressing it between newspaper (to soak up extra whey), but if you can find thick, full-fat Greek yogurt at the grocery store, then the process is even simpler: Hang it in a mesh strainer over a bowl for a day, and let the excess whey drip out. You can substitute slivered almonds for pistachios, if that's more your speed, or even skip the nuts altogether for a smooth shrikhand flavored only with sugar, cardamom and a celebratory sprinkle of saffron threads.