Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Calendar of Festivals

A Calendar of Festivals
retold by Cherry Gilchrist
illustrated by Helen Cann

Ages 9-12

Barefoot Books

Many communities around the world set aside special day(s) each year to commemorate a certain unique aspect of their cultural proclivity. Celebrated as a festival, these events not only stand to mark the cycle of our calendar, but also provide an opportunity to gather together with family and friends and rejoice, share a meal, and express our wonder and gratitude for life itself.

A Calendar of Festivals presents eight such festivals celebrated around the world, at different times of the year, starting with Purim in March to Russian New Year in December.

A one-page introduction of each festival presents the history, significance, and the traditional manner of celebration still observed today. The story behind the festival then unfolds, with bright and colorful illustrations.

For instance, the introduction to the Indian festival of Holi begins with, "Imagine being allowed to squirt all your friends with different colored paints!" Not having experienced this first-hand, my five-year old daughter found it exciting that children and adults are encouraged (and cheered) to indulge this way once a year, every year.

Celtic New Year fell on November 1st, known as Samhain. The day before was believed to be the time to scare away the ghosts and demons (symbolically our own fears and negativity perhaps?) by lighting bonfires. The book traces how this ancient Celtic festival came to be known as Halloween today.

From Vesak (enlightenment of the Buddha) to the Japanese festival of Tanabata, from the ancient Roman midwinter celebration now observed as Christmas to a relatively modern festival of Kwanzaa created by Dr.Maulana Karenga, the book manages to inform and entertain the young readers.

The book does touch upon the underlying deistic beliefs for each festival, drawing from mythology, folklore and biblical references. While the book doesn't intend to be a comprehensive list of popular festivals, or an exclusive subset of lesser-known festivals, there is a conspicuous absence of representation from certain cultures that would have made this book wholesome and well-rounded.

[image source:]


sathish said...

Sheela, very nice. an apt end to CROCUS festival with a review of all festivals related to various cultures.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Sheela, the book ' A calendar of Festivals' is a wonderful way to introduce children to different festivals and cultures.

And also a perfect way to end your (CROCUS) week long literary festival.

You all have done a remarkable job, sourcing out such wonderful books for us. Kudos to all the contributors of Saffron Tree. :)


starry eyed said...

Lovely! Thanks!

sandhya said...

Had seen this book, and was struck by the sentence re Holi too.

Great review, Sheela.

Praba Ram said...

Barefoot again! Sounds lovely. Will check it out. Thanks, Sheela.

Meera Sriram said...

Befitting in every sense! Tracing roots and reasons for the festivals should be interesting. Grand pick for the finale Sheela!

Sheela said...

Thanks all. As with many things cultural, this book presents possibly one of the popular interpretations (and roots) of the various festivals with a simple child-friendly approach. (Tut-tut, the jaded adult in me trying to thwart the kid inside. Again) :)

artnavy said...


check this out- I think u may like it

Poppins said...

Very very nice book Sheela and as Satish says extremely apt to end CROCUS with.

Choxbox said...

Spotted this at the very bottom of a pile of books in the Bangalore Book Fair! Thanks Sheels, would have never given it a second glance had I not read your review. Got it in brand new state for (eat your hearts) for 50 rupees wonly!

Totally awesome. Yay to ST!

Choxbox said...

@art: that book sounds fab, and is by lemony snicket too! we have a bunch of his books (the unfortunate events series) and they are a total hoot!

sandhya said...

Got our hands on this book thanks to Choxbox!
Lovely! Both A and I were enchanted by the stories, bth known and unknown- like that about Tanabata, so like that of Persephone, and the one about the Warau people.

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