Sunday, October 08, 2006

Book Review: Premlata and the Festival of Lights

Title: Premlata and the Festival of Lights
Author: Rumer Godden
Age Suitability: 7 and up

Rumer Godden is a favourite author of mine, and any book of hers is guaranteed to be well written. The author lived in India as a child and her familiarity with and love for the country brings it to life in this book. Premlata is a seven year old girl whose family has fallen on hard times after the death of her father. Such hard times that her mother has been forced to sell the lamps they used to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. To Premlata, no lights for Diwali is unthinkable. Thanks to a rich man's generosity, it look as though she will get her lights ... but all does not go as planned.

Star and I both very much enjoyed this book. There are a few caveats, though. Premlata makes mistakes. She takes matters into her own hands, causes anxiety for her mother, and spends money that does not really belong to her. She is an appealing little girl, and it is clear why and how she comes to do these things, but we still needed to have a chat about the rights and wrongs. As a Hindu festival is at the centre of the story there are obviously many references to Hindu gods and worship. If you would rather avoid dealing with non-Christian religions with a younger child, then this book is not for you. These caveats aside, this book is a great addition to a study of India.

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