Please tell us about your book.
THREAD OF LOVE was written by mother and son writing team, Surishtha & Kabir Sehgal, and was illustrated by me. It came out in 2018 with Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. THREAD OF LOVE introduces readers to the Indian celebration of Raksha Bandhan, a holiday that celebrates the love between siblings. The two sisters make bracelets called rakhi for their brother, and he gives them gifts in exchange. The text is set to the song, Frère Jacques, which makes it fun to read.
What inspired you in illustrating this story?
I was very inspired by the patterns and colors in Indian textiles while illustrating this book. I wanted the colors to be vibrant and warm and and invoke a feeling of joy and happiness that I felt was present in the text of this book.
Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
I do not come from an Indian background, so it was very important to me to do a lot of research to make sure that I was portraying the characters and the holiday correctly. I did all the normal research one might do – checking out all the books my local library had on the subject, searching online for images of rakhi and information about the holiday, and talking with friends who celebrated Raksha Bandhan about their experience and what was important to them about the holiday. The authors were also extremely gracious in their willingness to answer any questions I might have while I was illustrating.
What are some special challenges associated with introducing a holiday your audience might be unfamiliar with?
Raksha Bandhan is a popular holiday in India, but it’s not as well known outside of the Indian community as other holidays like Holi and Diwali are. Traditionally, Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu holiday, but it has been adopted by non-Hindus as well, so we decided to focus more on the secular aspects of the holiday vs. the religious ones. It was very important to the authors that the holiday and the celebration of Raksha Bandhan seem approachable, and that is something that I tried to capture with the bright, warm illustrations.
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
It’s a great book to use to introduce Raksha Bandhan, the holiday that is depicted within THREAD OF LOVE, but it is also a great book to talk about sibling relationships, the bonds between siblings, and how we can take the time to honor and celebrate our siblings and everything we love about them.