Id Mubarak! An Eidie* of seven lovely stories await readers in 'Eid', the second in the series of ‘Celebrate! Your Fun Festival Handbook (the first book focused on Bhai Dooj and the Rakhi festival). The book encapsulates stories written by well-known children's writers where the common thread running through the stories is the celebration of the festival of Eid or fasting in the month of Ramzan.
In ‘Letters to Abba’ (Anu Kumar), the narrative is in the letter format where Aisha, the spunky heroine, devises a clever way to bust a saboteur and learns about the true spirit of Eid from the example of her mother. The act of bravery and kindness by a stranger in face of senseless violence that defines communal riots in ‘The Stranger’ (Ramendra Kumar) moved me deeply. In ‘The Superhero Sting’ (Madhumita Bhattacharyya), a wannabe-superhero grows up a little when he shows empathy for his mother. ‘A Fishy Affair’ (Ani Sengupta) is a fantasy story that plays with the interesting idea of a fish that cannot swim but gives wise advice. ‘The Discovery of Courage’ (Amish Raj Mulmi) will have you cheering for young Sikandar who has an epiphany about the importance of events in boarding school. ‘Foes in Dire Straits’ (Niroj Ranjan Misra) is about finding new friends under stressful conditions. And in ‘The Star-Studded Dupatta’, author Swapna Dutta takes us on a heart-wrenching journey where an eight-year-old Zubeida loses touch with her relatives during the Partition of India. Now 60 years old, she has no hope of ever meeting with her erstwhile family – or does she?
‘Eid’ surprises because its stories do not shy away from difficult topics such as riots and partition; these stories underline the triumph of personal bravery and compassion in individuals, even as the mob goes on a rampage. Each of the stories in the book celebrates the spirit of brotherhood that marks the Eid festival. Readers will be enriched by the information about Eid traditions, customs and food that the book dishes out (pun intended!).
On the flip side, in a book relating to Eid one expects that the festival itself would be, the ‘hero’ of the story. Since the first two stories in the book, ‘Foes in Dire Straits’ and ‘A Fishy Affair’, feature the festival in a token way, one is left wanting more. However, all the other stories feature the Eid or the month of Ramzan as an important part of the plot. Also, a few pointers – the ‘Fanoos Lantern’ craft would benefit from an illustrative diagram and Roopa Pai features amongst the contributors even though she has not written for this book.
Hachette is known for the extras in its children’s books and does not disappoint this time either. The section on the story of Eid lifts the veil on the why, when and how of Eid Celebrations and the holy month of Ramzan. Sulaiman Ahmad give clear and succinct information that helps us understand the facts and spirit of the festival. The crafts section has lots of Eid related fun activities for kids including recipes for making Ghoraibi Butter Cookies and Toffee.
This book is timely and makes for the ideal Eid gift. It is a book that should be read by a diverse readers – it makes us appreciate that even if we give different names to our festivals, the underlying emotion is the same – that of compassion, love and understanding.
* The traditional gift, normally money, given to friends and family members on Eid.