Ani’s Light byTanu Shree Singh

Ani’s Light

Tanu Shree Singh, PhD, Author

Sandhya Prabhat, Illustrator

Magination Press. Fiction, Jun. 23, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Mothers, Parental illness, Depression, Hope, Love 

Opening: On a night when the moon shone and little specks of light danced on the ceiling, Ani Lay awake. “It’s dark,” he said.

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Ani’s stuck in a dark cloud because his mother hasn’t been home. His friends and family try to brighten his mood, but nothing helps. When Mama finally comes back, but with her hair missing, Ani’s light gets brighter and brighter, chasing away his darkness. The unconditional love between Ani and his mother shines through as the two enjoy their precious time together, whether it’s forever, or just for now.

This sensitive, hopeful story will help kids explore their sadness when a close family member is undergoing medical treatment, while highlighting sources of light that can bring stability during uncertain times. It is also a terrific resource for anyone who wants to understand the ups and downs of coping with a parent’s illness.

Why I like Ani’s Light:

Ani’s Light is a realistic and heartfelt story about a boy dealing with his mother chronic medical illness. I am thrilled to share this book with you because I’ve only reviewed a few picture books about a parent dealing with cancer. Unfortunately, there need to be more books. This is a good book to have in your home library.

I love Tanu Shree Singh’s brevity of words and her lyrical text. It is enough to know that Ani’s mother is gone and he is very sad. Reader’s only know when she returns home that “Mama’s hair is gone.” This book could be used for many other medical issues (including COVID) that occur among family members, including grandparents.

I like the contrast between darkness and light, which Sandhya Prabhat uses beautifully to show the dark cloud surrounding Ani. But, when his mother returns home a cloud of light envelopes mother and son, and Ani is hugging his mother — his source of light — and offers to shave his head. The world is once again full of color. She sets the story in India. Just look at that gorgeous book cover!

My favorite line is when Ani’s expresses he was scared she’d never come back, and his mother responds “I’m here now and so are Dobby, Nani and your friends.”  “As long as you let others love you,” Mama said, “you will be okay.”

Resources: Ani’s Light includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers explaining ways to help a child through a parental illness. It is written by the Singh, a professor of psychology. She says it is important to honest. It’s okay not to know all the answers. And it’s important to help kids deal with their emotions. A good book to have in a home or school library.

Tanu Shree Singh, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Higher Education, Haryana, India. She completed her studies in positive psychology at Maharshi Dayanand University and writes extensively on issues related to parenting. Her passion for reading and getting more children to read led her to set up two libraries in Faridabad and Tirthan Valley. She lives in Faridabad, India. Visit her on Twitter @tanu75 and Instagram @tanu.shree.singh.

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

*Review copy provided by Magination Press in exchange for a review.

 

Bayou Magic

Bayou Magic9780316224840_p0_v2_s192x300Bayou Magic

Jewell Parker Rhodes

Little, Brown and Company, Fiction, May 12, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Pages: 256

Themes: Bayous, Magic, Environment, African-Americans, Louisiana, Grandmothers, Friendship, Hope

Synopsis: At home, she’s just plain Maddy to her four older sisters. It is 10-year-old Maddy’s turn to spend the summer alone with her grandmother in the Louisiana bayou. Her sisters tease and frighten her about Grandmère Lavalier, who they claim is a witch. But after a few days in the bayou, Maddy begins to feel a kindred spirit in Grandmère and at home in the enchanted beauty of her surroundings. She learns about healing herbs, wisdom, and listens to stories about her ancestors and the Lavalier magic. Maddy begins to wonder if she is the only one in her family to carry family’s magical legacy.

Maddy finds a good friend, in “Bear,” a shaggy-haired boy who takes her on great adventures into the bayou. The bayou becomes her playground and she’s having the time of her life exploring its wonders and secrets. Everything speaks to Maddy, including the fireflies and a face she sees deep within the water. Could it be a mermaid, the legendary Mami Wata? When there is an explosion on an offshore oil rig and the leak threatens her beautiful bayou, Maddy knows that she may be the only one who can help save the Bons Temp bayou.

What I love about Bayou Magic:

  • Jewell Parker Rhodes’ novel is a whimsical adventure into another life that feels more real to Madison Isabelle Lavalier Johnson, than her real home in New Orleans. Rhodes has spun a story of pure magic. Her writing style is very lyrical.
  • The setting is lush, believable and magical. Fireflies shimmer in the sky at night as residents of the Bons Temp swamp come together to contribute to the pot of jambalaya, eat, dance and tell stories well into the night.
  • The characters are colorful, eccentric and realistic. Maddy is a courageous and hopeful heroine who already has a sense of reverence and gratitude about her. She thanks the hen for laying eggs for breakfast, a fish for giving its life for lunch, and the fireflies that call her. Grandmère is eccentric, the Queen of the bayou who takes care of its residents with her natural medicines. Bear is a lively friend that coaxes Maddy to explore and teaches her about the fragility of the bayou ecosystem.
  • What a glorious plot, filled with adventure, wonder, mystery and danger. When her grandmère asks Maddy one day, “Who do you want to be?” Maddy shares her secret, “A hero. Like in my stories. I want to do good. Be brave.” Maddy is tested before the summer is over when a disastrous oil spill threatens the gulf and the Bons Temp bayou. Does Maddy really have what it takes to be a hero when bad things happen? A time of great tension for Maddy and the community.
  • There is a quiet theme of hope rippling through the novel. At the end, the author says that “In Maddy, I poured all of my love for young people who seek, each and every day, new and better ways to care for our earth’s natural resources.” I highly recommend this novel.

Jewell Parker Rhodes is the Coretta Scott King Honor Book award-winning author of Ninth Ward and A Jane Addams Children’s Book Award winner of  Sugar, her first novels for young readers.  You can visit Jewell Parker Rhodes at her website. She has a Teaching Resource for educators.