Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Rubina has been invited to her first birthday party, and her mother, Ami, insists that she bring her little sister along. Rubina is mortified, but she can't convince Ami that you just don't bring your younger sister to your friend's party. So both girls go, and not only does Sana demand to win every game, but after the party she steals Rubina's prized party favour, a red lollipop. What's a fed-up big sister to do?
Rukhsana Khan's clever story and Sophie Blackall's irresistible illustrations make for a powerful combination in this fresh and surprising picture book.
Praise from Publishers Weekly (starred review):
Khan (Silly Chicken ) delivers another astute and moving story, ostensibly dealing with sibling rivalry, but actually about hard-won lessons emerging from clashes of identity and assimilation. When Rubina receives her first invitation to a birthday party, her mother, who readers are left to infer is an immigrant, is first perplexed (“What's a birthday party?... Why do they do that ?”), then insistent that Rubina take her annoying younger sister along, even though Rubina pleads, “They don't do that here!” The result, in Khan's characteristically direct prose, is devastating: “I don't get any invitations for a really long time,” says Rubina, and Blackall's (Wombat Walkabout ) subtly textured ink portrait shows every nuance of the girl's sense of social failure. But Khan's remarkable gift for balancing emotional honesty and empathy, and her keen understanding of family dynamics, keeps defeatism from swamping the book. Rubina turns her experience into wisdom and gains her mother's respect as a mediator between cultures. It's an ending worthy of a novella, and once again signals that Khan is one of the most original voices working in picture books today. Ages 4–up.