From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—This sibling-rivalry story compares well with Kevin Henkes's Sheila Rae's Peppermint Stick
(HarperCollins, 2001). When Rubina comes home with a birthday-party invitation, her mother asks why people celebrate birthdays, as her culture does not, and insists that Rubina take her little sister along despite the older child's insistence that "they don't do that here." Sana is a brat par excellence at the party and steals Rubina's candy. It's a long time before Rubina is invited to another one. Expert pacing takes readers to the day when Sana is invited to her first party. Whereas the embarrassing scenario could be repeated with the girls' younger sister, Rubina convinces her mother to reconsider, and Sana is allowed to go solo. The beauty of the muted tones and spareness of the illustrations allow readers to feel the small conflicts in the text. The stylistic scattering of East Indian motifs from bedspread designs to clothing communicate the cultural richness of the family's home life while the aerial views, especially the rooms through which the siblings chase each other, are priceless. The book is a thoughtful springboard for discussion of different birthday traditions and gorgeous to the eye.—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City
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*Starred Review* Siblings everywhere will see themselves in this story, even though it is rooted in the experience of an immigrant family. Rubina is invited to a birthday party, and her little sister Sana screams, I wanna go too! Their mother, Ami, insists that Sana be taken along, despite Rubina’s vigorous protests, and the party turns out as badly as Rubina worries it will. To add insult to injury, after eating the lollipop in her goody bag, Sana almost finishes off Rubina’s. When Sana comes home with her own invitation to a birthday party, their littlest sister wants to attend, and now it’s Sana’s turn to protest. But fair is fair, Ami decrees. In a clever turnaround, Rubina, though sorely tempted to let Sana suffer the embarrassment she did, persuades their mother to let Sana go alone. Khan is of Pakistani descent, and this tale of clashing cultural customs is based on an incident from her childhood. The story (and its lesson) comes to life in Blackall’s spot-on illustrations, which focus on the family, their expressions, and body language. Though the sisters wear western clothes, Ami dresses in more traditional garb, a subtle reminder of how assimilation is transformed from generation to generation. At its heart, though, this is an honest, even moving, commentary on sisterly relationships, and the final rapprochement is as sweet as the lollipop Sana offers Rubina. Preschool-Grade 2. --Ilene Cooper