Name of Book: Big Red Lollipop
Author: Rukhsana Khan
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Publisher: Viking (a division of Penguin Group)
Audience: Ages 4+
Summary: Rubina is the oldest sister of a household with three girls. She gets invited to her first birthday party, but she is not allowed to go unless she agrees to take her younger sister, Sana. Begrudgingly, Rubina takes Sana to the party, and it’s a nightmare. Sana must win all the games or she whines and complains. At the end of the party, each girls gets her own goody bag with a big red lollipop inside. Rubina can’t wait to eat her lollipop, only to find that Sana has already eaten it. She’s so upset, but the worst of all is that Rubina doesn’t get invited to any more parties. Until one day, Sana comes home with her first birthday party invitation. Now the youngest sister is old enough to beg to go along. Their mother, Ami, tells Sana she can’t go unless she takes Maryam with her. As Sana is begging and pleading with her mother not to take her little sister along, Rubina interrupts and pleads on Sana’s behalf. Sana is allowed to go to the party without her little sister. When Sana gets home, she shares her green lollipop with Rubina and after that the sisters are friends.
Literary elements at work in the story (Genre/setting/characterization/plot/theme/point of view/style): This beautifully illustrated picture book is a realistic fiction story written from Rubina’s point of view. The focus of the story is centered around Rubina’s home with a single scene at the birthday party. While the written words are simple, the pictures on each page say a thousand words. The detailed facial expressions on each page set the tone as the reader feels Rubina’s excitment, anguish, anger, loneliness, compassion, and love. It is a story about family, sibling rivalry, conflict, forgivenenss and compassion.
(How) does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Although the story is set in Canada, the characters are originally from Pakistan. This book demonstrates one of the many cultural differences that this family encounters in the new country. Ami doesn’t understand the social significance of a child’s birthday party, so she insists that Rubina take her little sister to the party. However, the sibling rivalry that exists transcends all cultures.
Theological conversation partners: Rather than an eye for an eye or tooth for a tooth, this is a story about real forgiveness and compassion. Every child can relate to sibling rivalry and will marvel at Rubina’s wise decision to plead on Sana’s behalf. Rubina’s self-sacrificing grace saves her little sister from the pain and loneliness that Rubina felt when she was forced to take Sana with her to her first birthday party. Teaching children about forgiveness is a difficult task, and Khan does an excellent job of showing forgiveness through a story that will resonate with all children.
Faith Talk Questions
- Which character from this story is most like you and why? Which character is least like you and why?
- Tell me a story where you have gotten in an argument with your brother or sister? What happened? Why did you argue? What was the outcome? How did it resolve itself?
- What do you think about Rubina’s reaction when Sana is invited to her first birthday party? How would you have reacted, if you were in the same situation?
- Is there is a situation in your life right now where you need to offer forgiveness or need to seek forgiveness? What can you do to make the situation right?
This review is written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Amanda North
Big Red Lollipop by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.