Picture Book Review – The Moon from Dehradun
THE MOON FROM DEHRADUN:
A Story of Partition
Written by Shirin Shamsi
Illustrated by Tarun Lak
(Atheneum BYR; $18.99; Ages 4-8)
★Starred Review – School Library Journal
Inspired by the true-life events of the author’s mother, The Moon from Dehradun written by Shirin Shamsi and illustrated by Tarun Lak is a powerful and poignant story of the 1947 Partition of India.
Azra can hear the anger on the street just outside her home. “‘[People] are afraid,’” her Ammi says, “‘because our home has been divided ….’” Azra and her family have been living in Dehradun for generations. She tells her doll, Gurya, they will have to leave “‘in five days,’” but when Abba comes home frantic and distressed, it’s clear staying any longer will be far too dangerous.
The book gracefully manages complex and difficult topics such as displacement and political unrest by filtering them through young Azra’s perspective. The focus is on her feelings: feelings of fear in not knowing what’s to come, heartbrokenness for leaving Gurya behind in the rush to depart, and anger at her baby brother for “making” her forget to grab her beloved doll before leaving home forever. “My heart sinks like a stone in a well.” Azra expresses her grief in beautiful, lyrical language. The finality of the move and loss of home and place is gently emphasized by the refrain, “We cannot go back.” Lak’s use of muted colors in browns, pinks, and blues and sweeping scenes amplifies the sadness and confusion underway during the mass uprooting caused by the Partition.
The long train ride leads Azra and her family to Lahore where friendly neighbors, familiar spaces, and a surprise discovery provide hope for a new home and new beginnings.
Educational and inspirational, this book is a moving story of courage, hope, and resilience.
Back matter includes a glossary, author’s note, and information about the Partition.
Click here for a Reading Group Guide.
- Reviewed by Armineh Manookian