Monday, February 14, 2011

Something Sweet

Here’s a treat for young listeners that won’t take its toll on teeth. Read a sweet book.

BIG RED LOLLIPOP by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, Viking, 2010

This is for all those first children who wish they’d enjoyed a different birth order. Speaking as one of them, I know what it’s like to carry high expectations on one’s shoulders, when inside your head, your best instincts are battling with the green-eyed monster’s let’s-get-even
child instincts. Add a culture that your parents bring to their new country, but you, the new kid in class, don’t. I can’t speak for that experience, but Rubina can.

Rubina has, at wonderful long last!, been invited to a birthday party by a classmate. It’s a feeling of acceptance, belonging, all those kid needs that are separate from any adult understanding. Mother, Ami,thinks it’s wonderful, too. She’s thinking from a grown-up mother standpoint.

Rubina’s little sister, Sana, speaks up, “I want to go, too!” Ami agrees. Rubina must feel like grinding her teeth. It isn’t, simply is NOT done this way in America. Sana insists. Ami does not relent. Off they go, Rubina and Sana.

Of course, as any first grader could predict, this is a disaster waiting to happen. It does.

The sweet twist comes much later. Sana is invited to a birthday party. Oh, great joy at last! And her little sister, Maryam, wants to go. Ami thinks that’s just fine. Sana must feel like grinding her teeth, (Sound familiar?) But what does Rubina think? Say?

This is a book for great discussions. I don’t know about you, but I was proud of Rubina.

Author Khan moved to Canada from her birthplace in Pakiston when she was three. This well told story comes from her own childhood. Guess which sister she was? Illustrator Blackall is originally from Australia.Not sure about her childhood parties, but she says one of the worst things about being a grown-up is not being offered a goody bag at the end of a party.

Take a look at their websites:



For all of you out there attending parties today, may your little candy hearts have uplifting messages.

Even if the only valentine you can think of is your fluffy cat.


  1. I absolutely adore this book! I have three daughters, and we all appreciated the unexpected (but perfect) resolution to the story.

    The illustrations, especially the cover, are DIVINE!!


  2. What a sweet audience you have!


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