Big Red Lollipop

by Rukhsana Khan (Author) Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

Big Red Lollipop
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Rubina has been invited to her first birthday party, and her mother, Ami, insists that she bring her little sister along. Rubina is mortified, but she can't convince Ami that you just don't bring your younger sister to your friend's party. So both girls go, and not only does Sana demand to win every game, but after the party she steals Rubina's prized party favor, a red lollipop. What's a fed-up big sister to do?

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Kirkus Review - Children

Charming and spirited.

Copyright 2010 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Khan ("Silly Chicken") delivers another astute and moving story, ostensibly dealing with sibling rivalry, but actually about hard-won lessons emerging from clashes of identity and assimilation. When Rubina receives her first invitation to a birthday party, her mother, who readers are left to infer is an immigrant, is first perplexed (What's a birthday party?... Why do they do "that"?), then insistent that Rubina take her annoying younger sister along, even though Rubina pleads, They don't do that here! The result, in Khan's characteristically direct prose, is devastating: I don't get any invitations for a really long time, says Rubina, and Blackall's ("Wombat Walkabout") subtly textured ink portrait shows every nuance of the girl's sense of social failure. But Khan's remarkable gift for balancing emotional honesty and empathy, and her keen understanding of family dynamics, keeps defeatism from swamping the book. Rubina turns her experience into wisdom and gains her mother's respect as a mediator between cultures. It's an ending worthy of a novella, and once again signals that Khan is one of the most original voices working in picture books today. Ages 4 up. (Mar.)

Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly Used with permission

School Library Journal

Gr 2-4—This sibling-rivalry story compares well with Kevin Henkes's "Sheila Rae's Peppermint Stick" (HarperCollins, 2001). When Rubina comes home with a birthday-party invitation, her mother asks why people celebrate birthdays, as her culture does not, and insists that Rubina take her little sister along despite the older child's insistence that "they don't do that here." Sana is a brat par excellence at the party and steals Rubina's candy. It's a long time before Rubina is invited to another one. Expert pacing takes readers to the day when Sana is invited to her first party. Whereas the embarrassing scenario could be repeated with the girls' younger sister, Rubina convinces her mother to reconsider, and Sana is allowed to go solo. The beauty of the muted tones and spareness of the illustrations allow readers to feel the small conflicts in the text. The stylistic scattering of East Indian motifs from bedspread designs to clothing communicate the cultural richness of the family's home life while the aerial views, especially the rooms through which the siblings chase each other, are priceless. The book is a thoughtful springboard for discussion of different birthday traditions and gorgeous to the eye. - Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City

Copyright 2010 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission

Rukhsana Khan
Rukhsana Khan lives in Toronto, Canada.

Sophie Blackall lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
March 20, 2010
Golden Kite
Winner 2011 - 2011
Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens
Recommended 2011 - 2011
Georgia Children's Book Award
Nominee 2012 - 2012
Charlotte Zolotow Award
Winner 2011 - 2011

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