Umrigar, Thrity

Sugar in Milk

(2) K-3 Illustrated by Khoa Le. Loneliness engulfs a young girl in her new life in America, where a roomful of toys and a loving aunt and uncle do little to dispel her homesickness. One day, her aunt tells her a folktale about Persians forced from their homeland seeking ­refuge in India. The Indian king, hesitant to host foreigners, pours a glass of milk and fills it to the brim to indicate that his kingdom is full. Disappointment ripples through the weary travelers. But their clever leader adds a spoonful of sugar to the glass and mixes it without spilling a drop, silently conveying the message that "just like sugar in milk, we will sweeten your lives with our presence." Having won over the king, the travelers, known as Parsis, are welcomed to their new home. The tale her aunt tells shifts the young girl's perspective, and she begins to open herself to her "new and magical homeland." This story of new beginnings, lushly illustrated, celebrates the threads of kindness and ­humanity that bind us together. ­Umrigar's text gracefully alternates between the ­contemporary U.S. of the girl's story and the ancient world of the folktale, incorporating both pathos and humor; Le's art, with its intricate mosaics and brilliant jewel tones, evokes setting and emotion. A border with dynamic swirls of vines as well as a contrasting typeface sets off the story-within-a-story with clarity. Images of the prophet ­Zoroastra and the deity Ahuramazda suggest that the girl's family, like the author, are Parsis.


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