Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Review - Usha and the Stolen Sun

Usha and the Stolen Sun
by Bree Galbraith
illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
Date: 2020
Publisher: Owlkids Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Usha lives in a town where the sun hasn’t shone for as long as anyone can remember. Only her grandfather remembers its brilliance and tells Usha stories about the time before other people took the sun away, building a wall to keep it all to themselves. So Usha decides to do something and sets off in search of the sun.

When at last Usha reaches the wall, she tries to kick it down, climb it, yell her way through it—but the bricks don’t budge. It’s only after remembering her grandfather’s words and hearing voices on the other side of the wall that Usha changes her plan. She sings, shares her grandfather’s stories, and piques the curiosity of the people on the other side until they are inspired to remove the bricks, one by one to better hear what Usha has to say. Together, they bring the wall down.

Inspired by the idea of civil discourse, this book offers a timely message of communication and compassion.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This story about a girl who goes in search of the sun has a definite fairy-tale feel to it. It's not exactly plausible (if you have to walk for days to reach the wall, it's probably not going to be blocking the sun at your place). But I guess it's sort of a decent metaphor. The basic premise is that shouting and yelling don't do any good; calm words and wise discourse do.

I'm a little bit confused by the illustrations. Usha and her village look somewhat Pakistani. But when she finally gets the wall down, what does she find on the other side? A bunch of white kids (at least, most have fairer skin and are dressed in Western-looking clothes). Is this some sort of statement about the partition of India? Or is it a swipe at Trump's border wall, confusingly set in South Asia? I'm not sure.

Most kids will probably not pick up on those things, however, and will simply see it as a story of two sides realizing they have a lot to talk about and tearing down the one thing that prevents them from doing so. In that respect, the book works.

Thank you to NetGalley and Owlkids Books for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.17 out of 5

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