HOLI HAI! | Kirkus Reviews

Gauri’s family announces that, this year, each family member will make their own gulal—or colored powder—out of natural ingredients. Gauri’s father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, and brother choose a slip of paper from a bowl to determine which color they will be assigned. When Gauri closes her eyes to pick her paper, she becomes, unlike the rest of her family, furious: instead of yellow, which is what she longed for, she ends up with red. While everyone else in Gauri’s household gets busy using vegetables, herbs, and spices to create their assigned colors, Gauri stomps around the house and yard feeling upset. She is determined not to participate until her grandfather recounts one of the stories behind Holi, which is about a demoness who unsuccessfully tries to wield the fire of her anger against her nephew, Prahlada. On hearing the story, Gauri wonders whom her rage serves and whether she has the strength to let go of the “anger in her heart.” The book’s illustrations are beautifully textured and artfully designed. While the text’s underlying message is well intentioned, the author’s choice to frame Gauri’s overwhelming emotion as anger, rather than jealousy, makes the story read more like a misplaced condemnation of South Asian girls’ rage than a story about mindfulness.

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