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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
There are many celebrations around the world that honor the beauty and meaning of light: candlelight, sparkling lights of all sizes and description. Riya invites her friends, Ella, Dev, Warren, and the new neighbor, Caleb, over to her house for a playdate and to share her knowledge of the Muslim celebration of Diwali. The children are excited and, as they learn some of the symbolism of Riya’s celebratory activities and enjoy her food, they share their own celebrations with Christmas, noting the similarities and differences. Caleb, the new boy, is shy but in the end, he shares the fact that he is Jewish and his family celebrates Hanukkah, another celebration of lights.
Aditi Wardhan Singh’s picture book story, Sparkles of Joy: A Children’s Book that Celebrates Diversity and Inclusion, is a charming comparison of three different religious beliefs and celebrations. The main characters, all children, are eager to learn and share their own traditions. The plot develops in a user-friendly format that encourages young readers to seek, understand, appreciate, and accept other people’s beliefs and celebrations. The colorful illustrations brighten the story, making it a gem of sparkles as the title suggests. Each part of the Diwali celebration is carefully explained and, as the children learn, they share their own experiences. As each child shares their traditions, they shine and sparkle with joy, just as Riya sparkles as the beautiful hostess in this playdate. I love one of the closing lines: “Their hearts glow with the joy of togetherness.” Isn’t that what life is all about? Being together and celebrating our diversities? Beautifully told.