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[DiverseKidLit] A Hindu and Jewish Wedding in Picturebooks “Sona And The Wedding Game” and “The Market Wedding”

Hindu and Jewish Wedding in Picturebooks

Myra here.

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Our theme this January – March has to do with love and how much more apt can these two picturebooks be with wedding celebrations that depict specific cultural traditions.

Sona And The Wedding Game

Written byKashmira Sheth Illustrated by: Yoshiko Jaeggi
Published byPeachtree Publishers (2015) ISBN: 1561457353 (ISBN13: 9781561457359) 
Borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

It is the first time that Sona is attending an Indian wedding, with her elder sister as the bride. While immensely excited about the festivities, she is also somewhat annoyed by her little cousin, Vishal, who “thinks he knows everything” primarily because he has attended a lot of Indian weddings, compared to Sona who is a newbie at all this.

Aside from learning about face and hand painting, Sona discovered that as the younger sister of the bride, she has a special role to play. It is a tradition in Hindu weddings for the bride’s sister to steal the groom’s shoes which is tightly guarded by the groom’s younger brother.

As explained by Sona’s grandmother, the groom would then bargain with Sona to get his shoes back: “It’s a way for our families to get to know each other.” I really like how the author made use of the younger cousin and the grandmother to convey the distinct cultural practices in a traditional Hindu wedding. Even the significance of the couple’s prayer to Lord Ganesh was explained beautifully:

Apparently, the entire universe – the rivers and mountains, planets and stars, sun and moon are invited to attend and take part in this lovely wedding. Whether or not Sona did manage to steal the groom’s shoes, and what she got for it in exchange, I shall leave for you to discover.

I also appreciated the detailed two-paged Author’s Note at the end that provided more information as to what inspired the Author to write this story, and how wedding traditions vary from one region in India to another, and among Indian families too. This is a good introduction to how wedding is celebrated across different cultures, with an understanding that there is also diversity/heterogeneity even within the same culture.

The Market Wedding

Written byCary Fagan Illustrated by: Regolo Ricci
Published by: Tundra Books, 2000 ISBN: 0887764924 (ISBN13: 9780887764929) Literary Awards: Canadian Jewish Book Award for Best Children’s Book World Storytelling Award, A Governor General’s Award Finalist (Illustration), A Sydney Taylor Honor Book.
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

Morris and Minnie met in Kensington Market. While Morris sells fish, Minnie sells hats from a cart. They caught each other’s eye when they got suddenly mixed up, with Morris crying out for “Fresh hats” out of the lake, and Minnie started calling out “Latest fish! Straight from Paris!” And thus, a romance is born.

As most romances go, a wedding is planned soon enough. While both lead simple lives, Morris is determined to give Minnie the best wedding ever – from invitations written in gold, to hiring the famous Casa Loma Orchestra to play the music, to the ceremony in the synagogue officiated by the rabbi, and the three main courses, sherbet, and cakes for the reception.

Morris justifies using up all their savings for their once-in-a-lifetime wedding by anticipating the many gifts that they are bound to receive from the friends who will be attending their wedding. Surely, with such a grand celebration, their friends would also be providing the most lavish gifts. However, to the newly-wed’s chagrin and huge disappointment, not one of their friends showed up – not in the synagogue, not in the reception.

When they reached home, terribly disappointed, they were greeted by their friends who explained that they were too embarrassed to attend such a grand celebration without clothes to wear, plus they felt that their gifts weren’t good enough, hence, they decided to not come at all. What happened afterwards, I shall leave for you to discover.

I enjoyed reading this story and paying closer attention to the details of the lush art. It is also a sobering reminder of that which is truly of value during wedding celebrations – over and above the pomp and pageantry.

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#LitWorld2018GB Update: 12 of 40 – Canada (setting for The Market Wedding is in Toronto, Canada) and USA (Sona and the Wedding Game).

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2 comments on “[DiverseKidLit] A Hindu and Jewish Wedding in Picturebooks “Sona And The Wedding Game” and “The Market Wedding”

  1. Maritza M. Mejía

    Great reviews! Let’s celebrate traditions. Thank you!


  2. Such a beautiful multicultural story! The illustrations are magnificent!


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