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Mina’s Spring of Colors

by Rachna Gilmore

In her new novel, Rachna Gilmore, winner of last year’s Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature, again shows her empathetic insight into young people’s concerns and her gift for capturing the lively contemporary slang of their conversation.

Mina’s conflicting feelings about her grandfather Nanaji, who has come from India to live with her family, are intensified when a supercilious classmate sneers at Nanaji’s accent at a school open house. Crying “racism,” Mina unites most of her classmates against Ashley, but is compelled by her parents to include her anyway in the general invitation to the family’s annual celebration of Holi. In this traditional Hindu spring festival, all the participants, old and young, fling brightly coloured powders and liquids at each other in a joyful gesture of acceptance, forgiveness, and release. Mina’s anticipation of the party is clouded, however, by her determination to gain revenge on Ashley, for the sake of her grandfather, she thinks. Gentle, philosophical Nanaji sees it differently and eventually is able to help Mina see the true spirit of Holi. Gilmore’s resourceful, stubborn Mina is a thoroughly credible character. Both the multicultural background of the story and the wisdom of its conclusion make Mina’s Spring of Colors a valuable addition to Canadian children’s literature.