From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—In this story set in Trinidad, Ricki accidentally snaps a rosebud off his grandfather's bush and is afraid to tell the truth. Grandpa assumes that their new neighbors from India stole it. He shows Ricki a photograph of Ricki's great-grandparents who emigrated from India more than a century earlier and explains how "them people who only now come from India" are not "real Indian." When Ricki comments that the newcomers don't have it any easier, Grandpa changes the subject. In the spirit of Divali, Grandpa presents a rose to the woman but tells her to keep her children away from his flowers. When she denies any involvement, Ricki finally confesses. In the satisfying resolution, the neighbors send sweets decorated with rose petals, Grandpa calls them "good neighbors," and Ricki's worries dissipate. This appealing, multilayered story will provoke discussion about resentments between different generations of immigrants. Readers will relate to Ricki's inner conflict as he procrastinates over telling the truth. Akib's impressionistic pastel paintings portray the tropical setting and Ricki's feelings of guilt. Several outdoor scenes are depicted from an upward angle, effectively expressing a child's perspective. An author's note explains the Divali festival, gives a short history of Trinidadian Indians, and notes that Trinidadians have their own dialect, which is authentically captured in the dialogue. Pair this title with Armin Greder's The Island
(Allen & Unwin, 2007) for a lesson on xenophobia and prejudice.—Monika Schroeder, American Embassy School Library, New Delhi, India
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In Trinidad, Ricki and his grandparents are preparing for Divali, the Hindu festival of lights. Ricki is hoping that the roses he helped his grandfather plant will bloom in time for the holiday. Then, while bending to smell the flowers, he accidentally snaps a rosebud off the bush. He is afraid to own up to what he has done, even after his grandparents suspect the new “India people” next door of taking the missing flower. When Ricki protests that his family, too, is Indian, his grandmother shows her prejudice: “They only just come here. Our family come from India more than a hundred years ago.” Then, after his grandfather confronts the neighbors, Ricki confesses, and when Divali arrives, the neighbors send a sweet message of forgiveness. Akib’s oil pastels, rendered in rough, broad strokes, are sometimes muted and indistinct, particularly in portraits of Ricki and his family. Still, Rahaman smoothly integrates Ricki’s family’s colloquial speech into a warm story of a community and a holiday rarely featured in books for youth. Grades K-3. --Gillian Engberg