[Monday Reading] Red Lollipops and Kite Flying – A Rukhsana Khan 2-in-1 Special

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Check Off your Reading List Challenge 2014.

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Click here to sign up. If you have already signed up, here is the April-June linky where you can link up your reviews or updates from your reading list. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Julian Sedgwick’s Mysterium: The Palace of Mystery to two lucky CORL participants from April-June. So link up your posts now!

Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.

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Rukhsana Khan was one of our speakers at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content here in Singapore back in 2010 and in 2012 (click here to read more about her session in 2012). At the time I vowed to know more of her work. I am glad to finally feature a few of them here in GatheringBooks with two of her beautiful picturebooks, in time for our Buffet of Asian Literature reading theme, seeing that the Middle East is technically considered a part of Asia.

IMG_3562Big Red Lollipop

Written by: Rukhsana Khan Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall
Published by: Viking, an Imprint of Penguin Group, USA, 2010
Borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.

Rubina excitedly rushes home to share her first birthday invitation to her Ami and her two sisters. She had to, of course, explain to her mother what birthday parties are and why it is absolutely important that she be allowed to go. However, her younger sister, Sana, insists on coming along to the party.

Her mother or Ami is adamant that Sana comes along, otherwise Rubina would not be given permission to go. With a heavy heart, Rubina calls Sally to ask whether she can bring her younger sister with her to the party.

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As to be expected, Sana ruined the entire experience for Rubina. She cries whenever she falls down during musical chairs and she simply had to win all the games. Even worse, Sana eats the big red lollipop that is included in the birthday loot bags/giveaways which Rubina has been saving to relish for later.

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Sana did save a tiny triangle of a lollipop stuck in the stick for Rubina. When it was Sana’s turn to be invited to a classmate’s birthday party, it was their youngest sister Maryam who begged to come along. Naturally, Ami insisted that Sana also brings Maryam along. How the story ends, I shall leave for you to discover.

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With Sophie Blackall’s trademark artwork that breathes life, this picturebook would resonate with anyone who had to deal with annoying siblings, and it does demonstrate what it means to ‘share’ and be part of a family. In the highly-detailed comprehensive teachers’ guide that Rukhsana created, she mentioned that this is actually based on a true story: “Bushra is Rubina, Rukhsana is Sana. Except in real life Rukhsana never did give the green lollipop to her older sister Bushra—but she should have, so when she grew up and wrote the story, she did.”

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Written by: Rukhsana Khan Illustrated by: Christiane Krömer
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011
Borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.

In this picturebook, the reader gets introduced to Basant, a “spring kite festival celebrated all across South Asia.” The setting of this book is in the ancient city of Pakistan, specifically the rooftops of Lahore. Malik, a young boy in a wheelchair, is up early with his kite named Falcon. His brother and sister are as excited as he is, but a little doubtful as to whether Malik would be “king for a day” with only one kite.

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Insha Allah, it will be fast enough.”

Malik wanted to show the bully next door that despite his exorbitantly-priced kite named Goliath, Malik’s smaller kite, built for speed would be able to cut, snip, rupture its strings. It reminded me a little bit of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kiterunner with the circling kites, the dipping and the diving, and the chasing after fallen kites.

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In the Afterword, I found out just how huge a deal the kite festival is and how potentially dangerous it can be, so much so that it was banned for safety and security reasons in addition to orthodox religious opposition. The festival returned in 2013 with much rejoicing, so I figured that the publication of this beautiful picturebook is quite timely. I also learned a little bit how the kite festival goes:

Traditionally kite strings were coated with powdered glass so they would be sharp enough to cut through other kite strings. Later, metal strings were also used. Unfortunately the sharp strings sometimes injured people and cut electrical wires.

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Whether Malik would become King for a Day, I shall leave for you dear readers to discover.

I am in awe of this beautiful book. The illustrations as you can see above play with perspective, mixed media, gorgeous collage, with outstanding overall design and graphic layout. The fact that Malik is also in a wheelchair was not even written at all in the narrative, showing how dynamic the relationship between text and illustration is. I would definitely hunt for more books illustrated by Christiane Krömer as well as other picture books authored by Rukhsana Khan.

Currently Reading…

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I was able to finish reading A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd and would be reviewing it for our current reading theme in the next few weeks as it does deal with food food food! I fell in love with Felicity Pickle. I think this book came to me at just the right time when I needed to believe in magic.

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I was also able to finish reading Stitches, a graphic novel memoir written by David Small. As I am a huge fan of Small’s artwork, I knew that this autobiographical novel would simply resonate with me, and it did. Heartbreaking book.

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I have picked this book up again from my bedside table. I have been ‘reading’ this book in spurts and prolonged stops, and finally I think it just might speak to me now: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

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And no, I have not abandoned The Goldfinch yet. It is a sad novel and I find myself needing to breathe other words as it is very easy to drown in the narrative’s spiraling cycle of learned helplessness and the constantly-impending sense of doom that permeates each page.

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Reading Challenge Update: 94, 95 (25)

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12 Comments on [Monday Reading] Red Lollipops and Kite Flying – A Rukhsana Khan 2-in-1 Special

  1. King for a Day reminded me and makes me want to reread The Kite Runner. Hope you have a great week!

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  2. The Rukhsana books look wonderful, Myra, especially King For A Day. Wow, the illustrations are wonderful to see. I’ll also look for Stitches. I haven’t heard of it. Thanks!

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  3. Love the concepts within the Red Lollipop and King for a Day. The Raven Boys hasn’t’ gotten me to pick it up at the book store, I think because I don’t like the cover. Maybe I’ll give it a try! Glad you loved S of M–such a memorable book!

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  4. I have never heard of Rukhsana Khan , .which is too bad, Myra. I’ll have to see about finding her books here. I love anything by David Small – so I’ll have to check out his book, too.

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  5. Hi Myra! I loved your feature on Rakhsana books. I have read The Red Lollipop to many times to classes at my school. I teach in a community with a large population of East Asian families so I’m always on the look out for books that feature different cultures. I haven’t read King for the Day so am excited to find that one. Great illustrations! I’m trying to read Goldfinch too – and related to the “sense of doom” you feel when reading it! I am determined to finish it though! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week!

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  6. So glad you loved A Snicker of Magic. Definitely my favorite book of 2014!

    Stitches is such a moving graphic memoir. It’s been so long since I’ve read it. I feel like I need to read it again.

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  7. King for a Day – wow. I am now in search of this book. The illustrations look incredible. I have Red Lollipop and find it is a great read aloud and leads to wonderful discussions. Enjoy The Raven Boys. I am a huge fan of this series.

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  8. I haven’t read a word of The Goldfinch in three or four months… I didn’t intend to abandon it, but it almost seems like that is what happened. I’m not even sure where I put it–and you wouldn’t think you could lose a book that big! Seeing it show up in your Monday posts reminds me I should find it and start reading again before I have so forgotten what’s happening that I have to start over! I need to get Big Red Lollipop! I love all things Sophie Blackall, and I hadn’t realized the story would bring up so many different issues to think about and discuss. Stitches is certainly a powerful story. It made the rounds in my Children’s Lit class after one student happened to borrow my copy, read it, and give it a booktalk rave. Everybody wanted to read it!

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  9. Great book choices! 🙂

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  10. There is so much here to comment on. I cannot finish The Goldfinch. I just don’t really care about it which is sad because there is so much to care about. Hmph. I adore Sophie Blackwell as does my classroom children and home children, so I must get Big Red Lollipop. I’m beginning to think about a post office box so my husband gets off my back about my everyday visit from the men in brown. Read Raven Boys for sure. I really liked it.

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  11. I still haven’t gotten to Snicker of Magic, but it is definitely on my TBR. I so enjoyed Big Red Lollipop and King for a Day – both wonderful books.

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  12. I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about The Goldfinch. I am really curious what you think about it after you finish. I haven’t yet picked it up. Thank you for sharing all of these books with us! Have a great reading week.

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3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. [BHE 164] More Reading Resources About China and the Middle East | Gathering Books
  2. [BHE 183] Singapore Library Warehouse Sale 2015 | Gathering Books
  3. [Saturday Reads] Six Overlooked Fiction Picturebooks by Author-Illustrators (..or Could Have Received More Love) in 2015 (Part One of Two) | Gathering Books

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