In a nutshell:
An excellent read for Asian children and parents. A book that is fun and has culture in it.
In my opinion, it is imperial that children’s books have a hidden message in them, where they take something from it. In addition, this message should be presented in an interesting and fun manner.
Ria & Raj And the Gigantic Diwali Surprise do just that.
It starts off with Ria & Raj helping their mum in the kitchen for Diwali preparations. Their mum is making ladoos to give the temple and guests for Diwali. Personally, I like the authors’ choice of making ladoos as opposed to other Indian sweets. This is predominantly due to the fact that ladoos are traditional yet fun for kids to make. Kids in western countries can draw similarities between baking cookies and making ladoos. This similarity is depicted when Raj and Ria ask if they can make a spaceship shaped ladoo and a princess one respectively. This illustrates that ladoo making can be a fun activity that keeps the children entertained whilst keeping the culture alive.
Also, the concept of sharing is highlighted with the intention for the ladoos to be given to people. Like any mischievous child, Raj has an idea to make one big ladoo instead of 200 small ones. While making it, there is a lot of emphasis on the sounds. For instance, reading squish and squash aloud repetitively would be a fun read for children.
I like the fact that Ria & Raj are both Asian names that are easy to pronounce. This makes it easier for children to read with confidence. Moreover, I simply love the idea of the surprise being an enormous ladoo. The imagery is akin to a big snowball. It sounds like a lot of fun, even for an adult!
There’s a further emphasis on sharing when Raj points out that they can cut the big ladoo into different pieces to still give the temple and guests. So they go along with their idea. And the surprise of the big ladoo is for their parents to unveil.
In conclusion, this book would make an excellent festive and educational gift for children on Diwali. But don’t forget to give them a box of ladoo with the book to ‘squish and squash’ and form a gigantic surprise of their own!
You can purchase the book online here. Be sure to get it before Diwali!