King For A Day – Multicultural Children’s Book Day

King for a Day9781600606595_p0_v1_s260x420King For A Day

Rukhsana Khan, Author

Christiane Kromer, Illustrator

Lee & Low Books Inc., Fiction, Oct. 1, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Kites, Basant Festival, Disabilities, Pakistan

Opening“Basant is the most exciting day of the year! With feasts and music and parties, people celebrate the arrival of spring. And many will make their way to the rooftops of Lahore to test their skills in kite-flying battles.”

Synopsis:  Malik is up early and perched in his wheelchair on the rooftop. He is ready to launch his home-made kite, Falcon, into the skies. He sends his brother to the streets to catch the kites he hopes to set free today. His sister helps him launch his kite. Falcon is small, but built for speed. Malik works his string so that Falcon dives and breaks the strings on the kites of the next door bully. He moves on to circle other kites plucking them from the sky. His brother returns with a pile of kites. By the end of the day Malik has succeeded in showing that he is the best kite fighter and flyer — the King of Basant. As Malik watches the bully shove a girl to the ground and grab her kite, this king shows his kindness to the girl in a special way.

Why I like this book: Master storyteller Rukhsana Khan has written a celebratory story about a boy who is clearly more focused on his abilities than his confinement to a wheelchair. Choosing a child with physical challenges will inspire other children. Malik has talent, technique, self-confidence, and determination. He wants to win the annual kite battle in Lahore. And, Malik beats his bully neighbor with his kite-flying skills and not hurtful words. Khan has turned this centuries-old tradition into a contemporary story for children. Christiane Kromer’s illustrations are exquisite and there is a feast of color on every page.  She focuses on so much detail that you can feel the breeze of the soaring kites on this perfect day. Her pen and ink illustrations are a mixed collage of beautiful fabrics, laces, cut paper and folk art designs of Pakistan. King For A Day is a beautiful collaborative effort between author and illustrator.  Visit Rukhsana Khan and Christiane Kromer at their websites.

Resources:  Khan has devoted a page at the end of the book to the Basant Festival, which is celebrated across South Asia to herald in the spring. Making a kite would be a fun activity for kids. Watch this Kidspot Youtube video and learn how to make your own home-made kite. With markers you can write fun or  inspirational messages or write you name on your kite if it blows away.

Special Note: Monday, January 27,  I am joining other bloggers in celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day, which celebrates diversity in children’s literature. The event is co-hosted by Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. Please visit the website to view multicultural books in all genres.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Big Red Lollipop

I attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) 40th annual conference in August.  I returned with some favorite picture and middle grade books, and YA fiction that I will share in coming months.

Big Red Lollipop, is written by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.   Khan won a Golden Kite Award for the text of her picture book at the SCBWI  conference in August.  A gifted storyteller, Rukhsana Khan gave one of the most inspiring and humorous acceptance speeches by telling her real-life story of siblings rivalry and cultural differences, and how she brought this winning story to life.   Blackall’s illustrations beautifully compliment and capture the many emotions in the story.

Rubina races home after school, with her first birthday party invitation.    Her mother asks Rubina, “What is a birthday party?”  Rubina explains that “it’s when they celebrate the day they are born.”   There is cake and ice cream, games and toys.  In the background her little sister Sana, screams that she wants to go.  Not understanding the custom, her mother tells Rubina she can go if she takes her little sister.  Rubina knows the other girls will make fun at her and never invite her again.   Taking Sana to the party isn’t too bad and they leave with a gift bag of small toys, chocolates and a Big Red Lollipop.  Sana eats her lollipop on the way home, but Rubina carefully saves lollipop on top of the refrigerator for the next morning.   Guess who spots the lollipop the next morning?  But, the worst thing that happens is that Rubina doesn’t get any invitations to birthday parties for a long time.  Then one day Sana runs home from school with an invitation to a birthday party and is told that she must take her little sister Maryam.  This is a charming book about sibling rivalry, friendship and compassion that take some unexpected twists and turns.  I have added this book to my book shelf.

Kahn has authored many multi-cultural picture books including Silly Chicken, Ruler of the Courtyard and The Roses in My Carpet.  Her newest book, Wanting Mor is a middle grade book I plan to review soon.