Chandra’s Magic Light: A Story in Nepal by Theresa Heine and Judith Gueyfier is an absolutely superb children’s book!
When Jakki, a Barefoot Books embassador asked if we’d be interested in receiving a copy of Chandra’s Magic Light in exchange for our honest review I looked around the internet to see what it was about. It hadn’t yet been released at that time, but there was plenty of information about it and I was so excited that we’d be able to have a look at it.
First, let me summarise the story of Chandra’s Magic Light
Chandra and Deena have a little brother, Akash, who is not well. The kerosene smoke from their tuki (lamp) makes his cough worse. When Chandra and Deena visit the market to buy some herbs to help him, they notice a man selling ‘magic’ solar tukis. They wanted to get one to help their brother’s health, but they were 3,000 rupees and needed a 500 rupee down payment.
Chandra and Deena ran home to tell their father, but he was suspicious of this ‘new’ invention, and he didn’t have the money to purchase one. Chandra and Deena are resourceful girls and decide they will go up into the hills and pick some rhododendrons to sell at the market for 5 rupees a bunch. They work hard all week but are still 100 rupees short of the down payment. In the end they are able to make their purchase and they all sleep better with the warm and healthy glow from their solar tuki.
Our opinions of Chandra’s Magic Light
We all love this book! The story is touching and shows insight into how children of Nepal live. Life there is tougher physically with carrying baskets on heads or on poles across the backs of their shoulders. The children milk their own goats. The kids have more freedom but also a lot more responsibility.
The descriptions such as how the “river roared beneath like a dragon as they walked carefully across the wet logs” really help to create images in the mind. In addition to this, the illustrations are bright and colourful. When looked at closely you can pick out things to talk about; such as not having ‘doors’, but rather a blanket covering the doorway (I remember seeing this in China many years ago with snow on the ground).
This is the perfect summer read for kids. You can combine reading with learning about geography, science, culture, and home ec.
My children really liked seeing the baby carried around in a sling, just as they were carried as babies. They liked the colours, and learning about how children far away lived.
Added extras at the back of the book
There are six pages of extra information at the back of Chandra’s Magic Light for extra learning and insight. These include information about Nepalese people and work, health, markets, religion, weather, the unique flag of Nepal, and a map, among other things. Also included is a full page with instructions on how to make your own pizza box solar oven!
Other ways we will be using this book
We are full of ideas that this book has inspired! Chandra’s Magic Light lends itself to many discussions and activities. Here are a few things we’ve either done already or are in the process of doing…so keep checking back (or sign up for our emails) for updates and some free printables I’ll be making to go along with this book!
- Talk about types of energy and light.
- How would your life be different without electricity?
- Take a walk around your neighbourhood or a park and see if you can spot some Rhododendrons.
- Make a solar light.
- Do a spice sniff test.
- Make a Nepali recipe for dinner.
- Compare types of light with a radiometer.
The mission statement of Barefoot is:
At Barefoot Books, we celebrate art and story that opens the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life, focusing on themes that encourage independence of spirit, enthusiasm for learning and respect for the world’s diversity.
If your child likes books, be sure to stop by our book and book activities page where you’ll find lots of great books and ways we’ve found to have even more fun with them. You’ll also find our other Barefoot reviews of the Zig Zag Zebra and We’re Roaming Through The Rainforest.