THE LIGHT WITHIN YOU
By: Namita Moolani Mehra
Illustrated by: Kamala Nair
Published: September 26, 2023
Publisher: Two Lions
Diya is excited to be making a visit back to India to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, with her grandma. She hasn’t seen Nani since they moved to America. Since her family moved again, she feels alone in her new school. Her classmates don’t understand her excitement about Diwali and why she will be gone for three weeks.
It will take a whole day to travel to see Nani but it will be worth it. Once she arrives at Nani’s house, Diya is reminded of all the extraordinary things she loves about India. She feels at home and doesn’t feel so different or alone while she is there.
“You know when things are tough on the outside, it helps to brighten your light on the inside!” Nani said.
Diya looked surprised. “There’s a light inside me?”
“We all have an inner light, Diya. When you believe in yourself, your light shines bright, and darkness fades away…”
Nani notices that Diya is a bit sad. Nani reminds Diya that all of us have an inner light that shines bright once we believe in ourselves. Diya’s light shines bright as she and her family celebrate Diwali. There is all kinds of food during the celebration. Diya helps Nani during the lighting of the diya lamps. Diya and Nani watch the fireworks. As the time for Diya to return to America comes closer, she begins to feel sad again. Instead, her Nani reminds her that Diwali can be celebrated all year long with Diya’s own special light inside of her. Nani also sends a special gift with Diya back to America.
When Diya returns home, she has the perfect idea for sharing her light with others. A glossary of Indian terms and a note from the author about celebrating Diwali are included. The author also closes with a Diwali Affirmation. It is a wonderful reminder for all of us about making sure our light shines for others.
Lots of purple, pink, and orange are used in the illustrations and I enjoyed seeing the love shared between Diya and her Nani. The author also takes the liberty to enhance certain words with bold or italicized lettering to make them stand out, such as “believe in yourself” and “It’s the light within you.”
This is such a special story for kids of any culture and a reminder that we all have a light within us that needs to shine bright.
Namita Moolani Mehra is a children’s book author, cookbook author, and food and parenting writer. She wrote the picture book Anni Dreams of Biryani, illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat, and the children’s cookbooks The Magic Spicebox and Superfoods for Superheroes. Namita also runs a social-impact business called Indian Spicebox that helps fund hot meals for underprivileged children in India. Namita was born in a remote village in Nigeria, grew up in the UK and India, studied in Chicago, and worked in New York for over a decade. She currently lives in Singapore with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.namitamehra.com.
Kamala M. Nair grew up in Kerala, a small state on the southwestern coast of India surrounded by exotic wildlife, stunning beaches, lush green hills, and turquoise backwater. She is a professional architect and a children’s book author and illustrator. She recently illustrated The Way Champs Play, written by tennis champion Naomi Osaka. Kamala loves to travel and be immersed in the beauty of culture, architecture, and people around the world. She currently lives in Kerala.