I love that Scholastic offers this book in the school market and that the story is universal to all ages, and all cultures. The mom is Ami and the names are Indian/Pakistani the illustrations show the mom in traditional clothing including a scarf on her head, giving the story a tinge of culture and religion, but not distracting from the beauty and charm of the story.
The basic story is of a girl, Rubina, presumably new to America (or any western country) being invited to a birthday party and running home to ask her mom if she can go. The mom asks what is a birthday party and why would one celebrate it, implying that it is not a traditional practice, but not something she opposes. Rubina is allowed to go on the condition that she take her younger sister Sana, who is begging to go along. Embarrassed about the idea, Rubina arranges to bring Sana, even though her friends find it odd. At the party Sana spoils all the fun, and afterwards eats Rubina’s treasured red lollipop. Rubina is no longer invited to parties, however when Sana is invited to a party, Rubina shows tremendous heart and takes a surprising and praiseworthy course of action.
Beautifully illustrated the story works wonderfully during story time, with each child identifying to different characters, yet understanding the same message. The book is an AR level 2.2, and lends itself easily to discussion. Even older students can explore points of view with this book, and imagine what they would do in any of the characters’ shoes.
Completely clean and enjoyable.
The author’s website: http://www.rukhsanakhan.com/books/bigredlollipop.html offers a reading of the story, teacher’s guides, and the truth behind the fictionalized account.