Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Jamel Akib. Lee & Low Publishers.
The Plot: Arun's family adopts a baby girl from India.
The Good: The story is framed by the Hindu holiday Rakhi, a holiday that is about brothers and sisters. Arun wishes he had a sister so that he could celebrate Rakhi. A few months later, he finds out the family is going to adopt a little girl from India, the country where Arun's father was born. The story ends with the baby, Asha, (now about one years old) arriving just in time for Rakhi. It's a holiday I was unfamiliar with; but it's a perfect holiday to celebrate children becoming siblings, and it's also one that will be easily understood by children hearing the story.
I love that this story was framed by this holiday; and I love that the pictures and text show a family that celebrates a diverse heritage. Rakhi is celebrated; during October, there is a jack-o'-lantern on a table. The pictures, as well as the text, show a biracial family. (Truth be told, I didn't pick that up until my second reading, when I noticed that Dad's country of origin was mentioned but not Mom. The Lee & Low website confirmed this. I like that it's not a "hit you over the head with it" part of the story.)
This is a great story about adoption, particularly international adoption, and the long wait many families face in waiting for their adoptive child. "When you adopt a baby from one country and bring her to another, there are many governmental forms to fill out and laws to follow," Dad says. "It takes time." (I am so good. I am not making any snarky comments about international adoptions and certain celebrities.) While the actual process takes a long time, Bringing Asha Home shows a family taking the steps to welcome the baby into their hearts long before the child is brought into their home: a room is prepared, Arun makes her presents of paper airplanes, and a birthday party is held.
Question: Part of Rakhi involves sisters giving colorful bracelets to their brothers. If I used Bringing Asha Home as a storytime book at the library, would it be inappropriate to combine it with making friendship bracelets? Does anyone know?
Liz, there is a story in the summer 2006 issue of Kahan by picture-book diva Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen about two girlfriends (one desi and the other not) exchanging rakhis.
In fact, Rabindranath Tagore suggested all Indians exchange rakhis "to create a sense of brotherhood between Indian people."
In short, if you used Bringing Asha Home as a storytime book at the library, it would NOT be inappropriate to combine it with making friendship bracelets.
(And I loved Bringing Asha Home.)
Hope this is helpful.
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