Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Sona and the Wedding Game, written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi. Peachtree, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2015. $22.95 ages 5 and up
Sona doesn't know all of the traditions of her culture until her family begins to make preparations for her older sister's marriage to Anil. When her grandparents arrive from India, her grandmother asks her to be responsible for stealing the groom's shoes.
"It's a tradition for the bride's sister," she tells me. "It's a way for our families to get to know each other."
Learning that it is a game, and that Anil will have to make a bargain with her to get them back, Sona agrees with reservations. Her visiting cousin Vishal is only too happy to acquaint Sona with all that she does not yet know about weddings. Sona has never been to one. The preparations continue as Sona spends time trying to plot the theft of the shoes. Anil's brother Jitu will be trying to stop her.
She makes a plan, realizing that she will need someone to help carry it out. She shares her idea with Vishal, who happily agrees to be her accomplice. Once the plan is in place, Sona takes part in the many activities that precede the wedding. She does not let go of a small worry. As the wedding ceremony begins, Jitu takes his brother's shoes, places the bag containing them under his chair. Sona pretends to have no interest in them.
At exactly the right time, the plan is put in motion. When the discovery that the shoes have been stolen is made by Anil, the bargaining begins. He wants his shoes back, and he must offer a prize for their return. Sona knows exactly what she wants!
The wedding traditions are perfectly described by the author, and illustrated in pleasing watercolors created by Ms. Jaeggi who has obviously done a lot of research to bring the book to life. They are full of color, warmth and family. A very useful author's note shares some of the memories that lead her to write this story, and explains the ceremony and its many traditions.
I think it's very important to share books with children that help them understand and truly appreciate that other cultures have their own special ways of celebrating important events. It develops empathy and offers shared knowledge of what makes us different as we also celebrate our similarities.