In her new home in the West, far from the warmth and familiarity of her native New Delhi, Gita anticipates celebrating the Hindu festival Divali-"Fireworks, lots of them-that's what Divali was all about." Surely such a light show will dispel the November gloom. But as Gita prepares for the holiday, "needles of ice stung the windows." In the freezing rain expectations turn to disappointments. Friends cancel their visits and, even more grievously, Papa must postpone the fireworks. As the girl compares the day with her memories of joyfully observed traditions, Mummy reminds her, "Divali is really about filling the darkness with light. Fireworks can't do it for us. We must do it ourselves." After they light the diyas (small pots of mustard oil) at each window, the storm causes an electrical failure, and Gita's home seems the only place of light in the vast darkness. The unexpected splendor of ice and dancing light gives Gita a meaningful new perspective. Accompanied by Priestly's soft, warm-hued watercolors, Gilmore's smooth prose and thoughtful imagery invite readers into Gita's not-so-foreign world. Ages 5-up. (June)
- Jan Lieberman
A freezing rainstorm prevents Gita's friends from attending her celebration of Divali, a Hindu holiday, known also as the Festival of Lights. The bad weather means no fireworks. Gita wishes she were back in New Delhi with her grandparents and friends. Her mother explains the true meaning of the holiday..."filling the darkness with light." Gita understands that the light must come from within. This is a magical family story.
- Uma Krishnaswami
Gita and her family are recent immigrants from India. It's cold and windy, and it's Divali day. It should be bright and joyful, full of light and fireworks, but it isn't. Young Gita is close to heartbreak until she and her mother light the diyas, the little clay lamps that mark this Hindu holiday. In the darkness and freezing rain, the diyas light up the night, the light "singing in the heart of the ice," and Gita comes closer to understanding the true meaning of Divali. A brief introduction is provided to the customs and origin of the celebration. This is a gentle little book about a magical holiday, and some of the magic comes through. The soft illustrations convey the wintry feel of the setting.
In a picture-book first published in Canada, an immigrant child from India celebrates the Hindu holiday of Divali for the first time in her new home. An introductory note describes the holiday as a festival of lights celebrated with sweets, parties, storytelling, and fireworks. In the November gloom of her new apartment, Gita longs for her extended family in New Delhi and the warmth she's left behind. She cries when an ice storm knocks out the power in all the buildings on her street; but with her parents and her best friend, she lights the "diyas" for the festival, and she comes to see that the lights of Divali can beat the darkness outside and the sadness within. Priestley's delicately shaded illustrations in bright colors show an Indian child and her family making a home. Words and pictures weave the particular holiday traditions into a universal story of disappointment and hope.