________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 12. . . .November 23, 2012.


Lighting Our World: A Year of Celebrations.

Catherine Rondina. Illustrated by Jacqui Oakley.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2012.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-594-1.

Subject Headings:
Festivals-Juvenile literature.
Light-Religious aspects-Juvenile literature.
Candles and lights-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Gillian Green.

*** /4



Hi! My name is Sanjay, and I live in India. Like other Hindus (say: HIN-doo), my family celebrates Diwali (say: dee-WAHL-ee), which means Row of Lights. Hindus follow the lunar calendar, so Diwali is celebrated for five days in October or November. This festival honors Lakshmi (say: LUCK-shmee), the goddess of wealth, luck, and happiness. We use special decorations to invite Laksmni into our homes. My friends and I paint rangolis, patterns made of coloured paste mixed with water, outside on the walls and floors of our homes. We also light diyas (say: dee-yah), small candles, and place them in our windows and around our shops and temples. Hindus believe that Lakshmi will visit the houses with the brightest lights. A visit from her means good luck for the whole year!


Light is used all over the world to celebrate important festivals and events. By setting off fireworks, lighting a lantern, or building a bonfire, lights are used to illuminate many different cultures. Lighting our World introduces readers to 31 familiar and unusual, religious and secular celebrations from around the world.

internal art

     The book includes an introduction about the importance of light in celebration and information about the use of calendars through history. Readers learn that, although many cultures use the Gregorian calendar, they may use a different calendar, such as lunar or lunisolar calendars, to track special cultural or religious events. The bulk of the book is organized by month, starting with January, on a two-page spread. Each month presents two celebrations. A young narrator introduces one celebration, indicating the meaning behind the festival, decorations, special foods and where it is celebrated. A sidebar introduces the second celebration using a non-narrative prose. Rondina provides a helpful pronunciation guide for words that are in a different language, or that may be new to the reader, and a glossary at the end of the book highlights important terms regarding global festivals.

     Award-winning illustrator Jacqui Oakley offers a unique look at each celebration by highlighting key aspects in colourful, vibrant and informative illustrations. Every picture reflects a culture not only by depicting the celebration, but also through clothing, food, architecture, and geography, all while promoting the importance of light.

     Lighting our World would be a welcome addition to any school or public library. Not only will young readers learn about global festivals, but there are also tie-ins to geography, history, language and heritage that could be discussed in a classroom setting. There is value in this book for children of all ages, and it is helpful to provide a sense of cultural appreciation. Young readers would be able to relate to the information through the narrators used to explain their cultural celebration. It would be easy for readers to imagine participating in Las Fallas, building a giant puppet in Valencia, Spain, only to set them alight at midnight!


Gillian Green is a Children’s Reference Librarian in Woodstock, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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