My Diwali Light by Raakhee Mirchandani and Supriya Kelkar

Hello, Raakhee Mirchandani! Hello, Supriya Kelkar! I’m thrilled you’re both here to celebrate your joyful picture book, My Diwali Light.

Raakhee Mirchandani: Hi, friend! I am so thrilled to be back here with you.

Supriya Kelkar: Hi John! Thank you so much for having us back on. It is always so much fun getting to chat books with you!

Raakhee, imagine you’re booktalking My Diwali Light to 2nd graders. What do you share with them?

Raakhee Mirchandani: I share with them all that I am: Indian, American, Mumbai, New Jersey, samosas and sandwiches. And I invite them to share who they are - all of them - with me. My Diwali Light is a book about my very favorite holiday, one that I celebrated with my family as a child, but also one that now, as an adult, I celebrate loudly, with anyone who will join us! Like Devi, we have a raucous Diwali party where we cater food from our favorite Indian restaurant and invite ALL the people: friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, anyone and everyone who wants in on the joy. It’s this beautiful open house where our apartment somehow can hold hundreds over the day, just like our hearts have room for all those who want in our love.

So if I’m in the second grade classroom John, I’m telling you about my favorite holiday and why I love it. And I want to know what you celebrate, how you celebrate and why that celebration lights you up.

Thank you, Raakhee! 

Supriya, oh my goodness! I love poring over your mixed media illustrations. I love, love the art on Devi’s bedroom walls. 

Supriya Kelkar: Thank you! I’m so happy you liked the illustrations and art on Devi’s walls. That kid art is courtesy of my three kids and Raakhee’s daughter. I loved getting to put their art into this chaotic scene full of kid energy, and let them be a part of the story too. There is also an embroidered rooster on that wall that my mom had made when she was younger. That embroidery hung on my walls when I was a kid so it was special getting to add a bit of my childhood décor into Devi’s room as well.

Thank you, Supriya! 

Raakhee, please finish the following sentence starters:

Supriya Kelkar’s illustrations are delightful magic. I still can’t believe I got to work on a book, about my favorite holiday, with one of my favorite people. Supriya captures the nuances of being Indian American - the puja thali, the shoes in the hallway, Devi’s grandmother in a hoodie - in a way that only she could, because this story is our shared history as first generation Americans.

Diwali is my favorite holiday! It’s a time of renewal and reflection, rediscovery and recommitment. It is a season of family, friends and food. In its essence, to me, it’s a time to rekindle our inner light, the one that sparks the revolution, and let it out, bright for all to see. Diwali is the holiday of my ancestors and my parents, the one that makes me feel deeply rooted to those who came before me. Diwali is mine, but it’s mine to share. And I want to share it with everyone.

Supriya, please finish the following sentence starters:

Raakhee Mirchandani’s manuscript for My Diwali Light is Devi’s story, Raakhee’s story, my story, our story. Raakhee has an incredible gift for finding the perfect voice for a kid narrator and one of my favorite things about this story is that it is Devi’s party, and we are all invited to celebrate with her. There are no othering moments where Devi has to explain herself to anyone. It’s just a kid celebrating what makes her special, and it’s inclusive, and joyful, and brilliant, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.

Diwali is one of my favorite holidays that my family celebrates. Diwali is food and fun and family and friends who are like family, like Raakhee is to me. Raakhee has captured all of it so beautifully in this book and it has been a dream come true to work on MY DIWALI LIGHT, alongside one of my best friends.

Raakhee Mirchandani is an award-winning writer and editor and the author of Hair Twins and Super Satya Saves the Day. When she isn't writing, Raakhee is either organizing her book shelves, running races to raise money for kids with cancer, or admiring her many Diwali decorations, many of which she leaves up all year round. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and daughter. 

Supriya Kelkar grew up in the Midwest, where she learned Hindi as a child by watching three Hindi movies a week. She is a screenwriter who has worked on the writing teams for several films. Supriya is the author of Bindu’s Bindis, American as Paneer Pie, That Thing about Bollywood, and Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame, among others, and the illustrator of American Desi

Look for My Diwali Light on September 20, 2022.

A charming holiday story following one girl’s family as they celebrate their Diwali traditions with the ones they love.

Devi loves the Diwali season. It’s a time to wear her favorite red bindi and eat samosas until she bursts! Makemithai and design rangoli with her Papa. And paint diyas with her nani—a reminder to shine her light brightly all year long.

This joyful story, with vibrant collage illustrations, follows one girl’s Diwali traditions as her family celebrates their favorite holiday with the ones they love.


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