Friday, May 24, 2013

Big Red Lollipop - Perfect Picture Book Friday



This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.

Sometimes a picture book takes your breath away. Sometimes, it's a quieter happy feeling. The Big Red Lollipop falls in the second camp. And it isn't really about a lollipop at all . . . . When I selected the book, I didn't know it was an award winner, but I learned that it won the 2011 Golden Kite Award for best picture book text, and the 2011 Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book text. I guess I'm a good judge of picture book character (and characters)!



Title: The Big Red Lollipop 


Author: Rukhsana Khan

Illustrator: Sophie Blackall

Publisher: Viking, 2010

Synopsis: Rubina is invited to a birthday party. But her mom doesn't know what a birthday party is--it's new to her--and she insists that Rubina bring her little sister, Sana along. Sana spoils the party and Rubina's next day at home as well. "I don't get any invitations for a really long time." Then when the tables are turned, Rubina has to decide whether to put Sana through the same social humiliation.

Opening: I'm so excited I run all the way home from school. "Ami! I've been invited to a birthday party!"

What I enjoyed about the opening of this book is the subtle way the author tells the reader that the family are "outsiders." We don't know how long they have lived in America but the mother asks "What's a birthday party?" and Rubina answers "It's when THEY (emphasis added) celebrate the day they were born."  This shows us that Rubina and her family aren't part of the world that celebrates birthdays without telling us specific details or even what nationality they are. It looks as though the mother is dressed in a traditional Salwaar Kameez and the back flap tells us that the author was born in Pakistan and then emigrated to Canada, but the story is satisfying without knowing this detail. The underlying emotions and tension between the two siblings are universal in nature.

Activities and Resources: After reading the story, talk about why Sana gave Rubina the green lollipop. The author has teacher's resources and a link to games for kids on her website. Watching this Youtube video, I learned that the author IS the younger sister in this story "Sana." As part of the "story-sharing project" you can watch Amanda Ferraro read the story.

Enjoy!

16 comments:

  1. Great multicultural choice. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. It's easy to feel like an outsider, even without the multicultural element but I really felt the emotion in this book.

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  3. This one of my very favorite picture books. Ruckhsana is a gifted storyteller. So happy you reviewed it. Heard her tell this story at an SCBWI conference and of course she added so much more. She has a wonderful sense of humor and excellent timing. She is Sana in the book. Love the story of sibling rivalry and different cultural customs. Ruckhsana is Muslim and came here as a child. I interviewed her in 2011. She has a blog and is very chatty.

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    1. How wonderful that you met Rukhsana! Reviewing a great book is nice, but finding out that I reviewed a great book by a wonderful person is icing on the cake (chocolate!)

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  4. What a perfect way to share the struggles of immigrants in America, Wendy!

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    1. I was fascinated. It never occurred to me that celebrating a birthday wasn't universal.

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  5. What a cool book. I love that it is about being an outsider.

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  6. So many great things to love in this book: the subtle ethnic details, ANYTHING by Sophie Blackall, the powerful message, the strong voice. Thanks. You are a good judge of picture books!

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    1. It's a book that shows quiet strength. Something we can all use.

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  7. Having been a new outsider once (having also immigrated to Canada), I would love to read this book!

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    1. Since Rukhsana is Canadian, I'm hoping you can easily find a copy.

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  8. I too was with Pat at the SCBWI meet where we heard Rukhsana read this story. She is a wonderful writer and I sat in on her Cultural workshop. This is a lovely story. So pleased to see it added to PPBF.

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    1. Sounds like a great conference! I have one not too far off and am looking forward to it (no Rukhsana, though).

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