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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Saffron Ice Cream, by Rashin. Scholastic, 2018. $23.99 ages 4 and up

"Then we would pack into my dad's old car and head toward a very green and beautiful part of Iran called Shomal. We'd drive for about five hours, listening to Persian music on the radio and stopping to eat a picnic lunch in the forest along the way. Sometimes I took along my friend, Azadeh, and we'd share a kebab."

Living in New York and visiting Coney Island is a new experience for Rashin and her family. As she tells readers a personal story from her past, she compares this visit to a similar visit made by her family when they were still living in Iran. There are differences; there are also similarities.

As the family makes its way to the subway that will begin their musical and people-filled adventure, she explains that a trip to the Caspian Sea is a wonderful memory for her. The day begins early with  halim for breakfast, and is followed up by a long and leisurely trip that finally ends in the beautiful waters of the sea.

Their beach experiences differ from place to place -in rules, not enjoyment.

"In some parts of the Caspian beach, there are beach rules, so I knew what was allowed. In that part of the beach, big, long curtains divided the sea into two sections - one side for the men to swim in and the other side for the women."

"When we get off the train at Ocean Parkway,
it's a fun chaos, too, though I don't know anybody.
Families of all colors stream from the redbrick apartment buildings.
The sidewalk vibrates with music, and the kids chase each other."

There are ice cream trucks in both places. Saffron ice cream is Rashin's favorite. No luck for her at Coney Island. Tears come quickly as Rashin confronts some of what she misses from her homeland. A smile and a suggestion bring a happy ending, and perhaps the start of something new.

The artwork is full of life and gorgeous! Filled with texture and charm, the illustrations help share this exuberant and memory-filled personal story. There is such a sense of joy, while reflecting on scenes from two different cultures - so important for all children to hear!

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