Tashi lives with his grandmother and mother in Ladakh, India. He loves watching nature through the big window of their house. When he sits at his window, he can catch up with his favorite friend, the Moon. He joyfully greets him everyday with “Julley!” Tashi likes to ask questions and Moon always answers back, but one day, Tashi notices that his friend looks thinner than usual. Every night, the Moon is more and more a sliver of his former self until he disappears completely! Tashi’s Momo-ley (grandmother) reminds him that it’s New Moon Night, where they fast and pray to Buddha and drink only a glass of milk. Clever Tashi comes up with a plan; he’ll leave out a tall glass of milk to help Moon regain his strength! Before long, Moon looks like his normal, jolly self.
This is a sweet friendship story. Not only do we get a glimpse of Tibetan Buddhism and Himalayan culture, we are also intimately invited into Tashi’s home (I really want to try momos now). I love how the author, Mamta Nainy, uses repetition to describe Moon’s calm nature; he always smiles his “special smile-eyes closed and no teeth showing.” I enjoy reading about multi-cultural perspectives of the moon. I personally call the moon “Grandmother,” so it’s cool to see moon as male in this story. Stories that explain the lunar phases of the moon in different cultural contexts are always interesting. The plot point of Moon getting smaller because he’s not feeling well and then getting fatter because his friend takes good care of him makes sense and children will connect to it.
I love the art of this book! Tripathi’s style is flat, colorful, bold, and expressive. One of my favorite spreads is at the very beginning; as Tashi leans out of his window, we see the blue-grey stupas of the monastery against the soft, pink curves of the mountains and the jet-black starry sky. I really like the use of heavy black outline in the illustrations; the contrast of the black line against the bright colors really makes the images stand out. Tripathi draws human figures in a very flat, blocky 2-D style that’s very eye-catching. Tashi’s open mouth is a cool detail; it suits his open and charismatic personality.
Milky Way is a great addition to your home and classroom libraries. Nainy and Tripathi craft a story that celebrates Himalayan culture, family and friendship. This book would work well in multicultural units in the classroom, of course, but it’s also simply a great read aloud about friendship and caring. Milky Way would also work well in a classroom science unit as an example of bridging science and culture. I love the addition of a glossary at the back of the book and the short introduction to Ladakh, India.
Be sure to check this one out!
Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Friendship, Family, Himalayan Cultures, Tibetan Buddhism, Lunar Phases, Science, Food Culture, India, Read Aloud
Book Info: Milky Way by Mamta Nainy/Illustrated by Siddhartha Tripathi, 2017 Yali Books, ISBN: 9780989061582