The Moon from Dehradun, A Story of Partition written by Shirin Shamsi and illustrated by Tarun Lar, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
The Moon from Dehradun is written in a tender voice and illustrated in muted colors appropriate for the gravity of the topic of Partition. And yet, Shirin Shamsi offers a look at the traumatic events that ends in hope and faith that peace will eventually prevail.
Although an event from the past, current events still detail families being displaced from their homes for a variety of reasons, from natural disasters to war.
The main character, Azra, begins the story preparing her guyra (her doll) and herself for a trip coming up in five days. Children will relate to the panic that she feels when the family, instead, must leave abruptly. What unsettles her even more is that, in the rush, she has forgotten Guyra! That pain is real, just imagining it.
The story further brings the reader along on the train ride and at the arrival of their new home, one equally as abandoned as the one they left, with food still out and personal items everywhere. This parallel of two families becomes more clear through Tarun Lar's illustrations showing the family that moves into Azra's abandoned home.
Without giving away too much, The Moon from Dehradun ends with a strong sense of friendship and hope. This author and illustrator team have done a tremendous job bringing a very challenging and difficult subject to young children in an informative and safe space.
Back matter includes a brief history of Partition, a glossary of vocabulary used throughout the text, and the author's personal story that inspired her to write this book.
It's no fun to imagine war, but we can imagine peace and friendship even in challenging times.
Imagine being one of the two characters at the end of the book who finds each other's dolls.
What would you share with the newly found doll? What could you tell the doll about where you came from or what your life was/is like or what you miss? (You could look back through the book for ideas or talk about your own life.)
Now, imagine being the voice of one of the dolls. What could the doll share with you? What would the doll recount about her life and the life of her child who had to leave?
With words or in pictures or by acting it out, imagine the conversation that first night in the new home with the new doll.
Imagine friendship. Imagine peace.