Children's Literature - Uma KrishnaswamiPart of the publisher's "Holidays and Cultures" set in the "First Facts" series, this volume is one of six being released simultaneously. The other titles are Christmas: Season of Peace and Joy, Juneteenth: Jubilee for Freedom, Passover: Jewish Celebration of Freedom, St. Patrick's Day: Day of Irish Pride, and Thanksgiving Day: A Day of Thanks. The history and meaning of Diwali is explained briefly, in simple language accessible to the targeted K-3 audience. Customs and rituals are discussed, such as the ephemeral floor art form of rangoli and the lighting of firecrackers. Customs from north and south India are somewhat conflated. The identification of Diwali with the "Hindu New Year" is made to seem more of a pan-Indian observance than is actually the case. The rangoli pattern shown in the photographs is a powder design while the text describes another style, using paste. Back matter includes a sample rangoli design, a glossary, addition readings (one is a title containing significant errors), a password and instructions to access the FactHound web site, and an index. While the author has clearly done the work of simplifying this material for young readers, the perpetuation of minor errors in this volume could have easily been avoided. It is recommended that for future books with South Asian content, the publisher consult with someone knowledgeable not only about the region, but about the range of children's books seeking to represent it.
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