March 04, 2016

Malaika's Costume

by Nadia L. Hohn
Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
March 2016

Bring in the sunshine of the islands and the colours of Carnival and Trinidad and Tobago with Malaika's Costume which launches tomorrow in Toronto.

Young Malaika is anticipating her first Carnival without her mother who has moved to Canada to make a better life for Malaika and Grandma.  She is hopeful that her mother will be sending money for a costume, as promised.  But a letter arrives that has Grandma pulling out a “tired costume. It smell funny and it dusty.  The costume squeeze my belly and some of the sequins fall off.  I feel hot and itchy.”  Distraught, Malaika runs through the familiar streets of her community until a kaiso song reminds her of her grandmother and that being poor does not mean being without dignity.

With donated scraps of fabric from Ms. Chin the tailor lady and Grandma’s help, an astounding peacock costume of red, blue, jade and purple, with gold and more is created, ultimately bringing the Carnival to her mother in Canada.

Nadia L. Hohn has given Malaika’s Costume a rhythm that evokes the busyness and warmth of a community that nurtures and supports.  Even the young girl’s initial disappointment is tempered with the affection of her Grandma and the realization that she has so many good things in her life.  And the text, rich with dialogue of patois, ensures that the atmosphere was created for the ear as well as the eye.  Irene Luxbacher, whose own Mr. Frank (Groundwood, 2014) introduced the illustrator’s collage artwork, complements that text with brilliant and bold art that bombards the senses.  The colours are lush, the textures surreal and the balance of characters and setting make Malaika’s Costume as much a place to visit as a story to be told.
From Malaika's Costume by Nadia L. Hohn, illus. by Irene Luxbacher

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review Helen. You write so well. -- Monica Kulling