Book Review: The Missing Laddoos
I was asked by children’s author, Jassie S. to review her children’s book, The Missing Laddoos, a short story about a little girl and her quest for an unlimited supply of laddoos during the celebration of Diwali. This would be a good book to buy for anyone who is looking for a multi-cultural holiday book for their children in the 6-9 age group. Though the protagonist is a young girl, her brother has a significant part that would interest young boys as well. Below is my review along with links to buy the book on SmashWords.
Seema wakes up on the morning of Diwali (the Hindu “festival of lights”) eager to devour her mother’s famous laddoos, which are the highlight of the holiday in her opinion. When her mother stops her from eating all of the laddoos and instead teams up with Seema’s friend, Vivya, to make more, Seema recruits her genius brother, Sharad, and his laddooo-making robot to make all of the laddoos she can eat and then some. However, things do not go according to plan and instead, Seema is taught a lesson about greed and the importance of friendship and family over dessert.
This story is very focused on its premise. Seema is a very driven character who is also devious and cunning. The story is a morality tale, which is typically the purpose of many children’s holiday books. Instead of being focused on the holiday, Seema is focused on the treats and getting her own way. However, there is a twist at the end as none of the characters are as innocent as they let on.
This story reminded me of Robert Kimmel Smith’s Chocolate Fever as well as Tomie DePaola’s picture books about trickery and gluttony. Seema’s brother, Sharad, is an interesting character, a boy genius with a secret room that contains a secret, culinary-skilled robot, adding a science fiction element to the story. Certain elements are glossed over, such as Seem’as absent father and her relationship with her friend, Divya, which develops into a temporary rivalry. Her team up with Seema’s mother, Sudha, who teaches her the secret laddoo recipe that she won’t share with her daughter, fuels her plan to create her own supply of this otherwise limited dessert.
For a children’s book, the story contains a very sophisticated vocabulary which may require explanation for a young reader. The details of the holiday may be very unfamiliar to an English reader as well. After reading it, I had to do some research to understand the holiday, its terminology, and its traditions. However, the themes inside the story are universal. It is definitely one that should be read aloud and interrupted frequently for clarification and discussion.