Review of The Moon from Dehradun: A Story of Partition

The Moon from Dehradun: A Story of PartitionThe Moon from Dehradun: A Story of Partition
by Shirin Shamsi; illus. by Tarun Lak
Primary    Atheneum    40 pp.    g
9/22    978-1-6659-0679-1    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-6659-0680-7    $10.99

When India is partitioned in 1947, Azra and her Muslim family members carefully plan their journey to Lahore, in what will be Pakistan, from their home in the Himalayan town of Dehradun in India. However, sudden violence calls for a hasty departure, and the family escapes, dinner still hot on the stove. In the chaos, Azra forgets her beloved doll, Gurya. Digital illustrations show ­caravans of families fleeing on foot and by crowded trains; the sequencing of several vignette illustrations on a double-page spread deftly captures the chaotic jumble of events. Upon reaching Lahore, where the new Pakistani flag waves, Azra’s family moves into a house that, like theirs, was abandoned hastily, and Azra finds a doll under the bed. With a page-turn, a wordless image shows a Hindu family entering Azra’s house and a little girl finding Azra’s Gurya. A concluding split double-page spread, comfortingly, ­juxtaposes the two girls smiling at the dolls in their respective new homes. Back matter contains a map, a glossary, and further context about Partition. This child’s perspective on a major twentieth-century instance of forced migration is rendered with both tenderness and urgency.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Hakim Azzam

Julie Hakim Azzam

Julie Hakim Azzam is assistant director of the MFA program in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. Her academic specialization is in comparative contemporary postcolonial fiction from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Southeast Asia. Her most recent work focuses on children's literature, stories about immigrants and refugees, and youth coping with disability.

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