Book Review: Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid!
Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! Muslim Festival of Fasting & Sweets by Ajanta Chakraborty and Vivek Kumar is Book 4 in the Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series.
As with other books published by Bollywood Groove the aim is to provide insight into the culture, mythology, and traditions of India.
In Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid, Maya and Neel visit their aunt and uncle in New Delhi. While there they learn about Ramadan and Eid-Al-Fitr.
As with other books in the series, challenging vocabulary is introduced throughout the story. Fortunately, the authors have included a pronunciation guide. Additionally, each word is included in context and is explained within the dialogue, which makes it easier to remember.
Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! does a great job teaching children each aspect of the festival, without delving into the religious aspects of the holiday. It is presented at a level that young children can understand and appreciate.
I love that these stories of Indian culture are written by a couple originally from India. And I love that they have hired illustrators from that country, as well.
I think it is important for us as parents to be culturally aware and to ensure we teach our children to be appreciative of cultures different from our own… Without appropriating or profiting from aspects of those cultures.
And of course, reading stories like Let’s Celebrate Eid! is one of the ways we can develop that appreciation. Through stories, we can combat the hateful messages that are prolific in the news, on social media, and that our children are potentially exposed to at school.
As an added bonus, not only is Let’s Celebrate Eid! an informative look at Ramadan and Eid-Al-Fitr. It’s an entertaining story of a brother and sister on an adventure in another country.
Author Interview: Ajanta Chakraborty
This is your second interview with Abrazo and Coze, so we already know a little about you from that first interview. Instead of telling us about yourself, instead, what is something interesting about you that many people don’t know?
My first business idea was to hand-paint and sell colourful clipboards to children’s hospitals so that the staff could walk in with something bright and colourful when they went to see patients.
Needless to say, that idea didn’t go anywhere but I did eventually end up in a kid related venture.
What sparked the idea for Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid?
In recent times, Muslims have become one of the biggest targets of hate. So much of this stems from a lack of understanding.
Our motto, in this case, is “Fight Hate with Knowledge”.
Knowledge helps combat fear. And once you are no longer afraid, you are suddenly capable of love.
We wanted to play our little part in raising awareness about the Muslim community through a festival that is entirely rooted in kindness and gratitude.
What were the challenges you had to encounter to complete Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid?
While we grew up celebrating Eid with our friends every year, it was still second-hand knowledge.
In order to write this book, I spent hours and hours interviewing people from India and Pakistan collecting their experiences about how they celebrate and what the festival means to them.
Are Maya and Neel inspired by real children? If so, who are those characters modelled after?
No, they are completely fictional. We knew we wanted a male and female character and it was also important to me that they were presented as co-leads and not with a male lead and female follower.
Is the Seviyan in Sheer Khurma made from the same kind of dough as spaghetti? Do most people buy the noodles, or make them from scratch?
Seviyan is vermicelli, which is a pasta made of long, thin threads. It is made out of “maida”, which is similar to all-purpose flour.
They are available at most grocery stores so most people buy them but I am sure there are some amazing grandmas who make it from scratch.
Is there any significance to Chintu as part of the stories? Why did you decide to make him be a squirrel?
Squirrels are often portrayed as fun, naughty characters in Indian kid stories.
We wanted a cute and charming character and hence, Chintu was born. Funnily enough, our little readers are almost more attached to Chintu than Maya & Neel!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I often discuss what I am writing with my 5-year-old who provides “feedback” on the content with a most serious face.
What authors, events, or books have greatly influenced you and your writing?
There is a sad incident that motivated me to write this book even more.
Once, during communal riots in my hometown of Bhopal in India, our Muslim neighbours were looking for shelter. While no other Hindu family wanted to take the risk, our family welcomed them in.
They all hid in our house, including their tiny daughter who was clearly very confused and thought it was some kind of a game.
Their relative came by in the middle of the night to take them to a safer location and the rioters burned their house.
The incident completely shook me up and brought on the reality of communal violence and hatred, way too close for comfort.
What are you working on now?
We just released our first book focused on mythology titled “Let’s Celebrate Ganesha’s Birthday!” and are now working on another Indian mythology character, Krishna, who is also extremely popular with kids due to his joyful naughtiness as a child.
The book will be titled “Let’s Celebrate Krishna’s Birthday!”.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us about yourself, your writing, or Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid?
We are from a country that has one of the largest Muslim population in the world and if you look on Amazon, there isn’t a single popular book on this topic that is written by a South Asian.
We wanted to share the celebration of this wonderful festival from the perspective of an Indian and we hope it helps expand the world of our little readers even more.
If you or your children are interested in India or Indian culture, Let’s Celebrate Ramadan and Eid! is a great choice.
If you’re looking for a story of adventure, that includes an educational aspect, it is also a good choice.
You can buy the book on Amazon. If you do, be sure to leave a review once you’ve had a chance to read it. The authors are independently publishing their books, and the reviews do wonders for getting them in front of more readers.