9781554987542_interior Enlarge Cover
5 of 5
1 rating
list price: $18.95
also available: eBook
category: Children's Fiction
published: Mar 2016
publisher: Groundwood Books Ltd

Malaika’s Costume

by Nadia L. Hohn & Irene Luxbacher

tagged: caribbean & latin america, emigration & immigration

Malaika’s mother can’t buy her a carnival costume — will she still be able to dance in the parade?

It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved to Canada to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?

Disappointed and upset at her grandmother’s hand-me-down costume, Malaika leaves the house, running into Ms. Chin, the tailor, who offers Malaika a bag of scrap fabric. With her grandmother’s help, Malaika creates a patchwork rainbow peacock costume, and dances proudly in the parade.

A heartwarming story about family, community and the celebration of Carnival, Nadia Hohn’s warm and colloquial language and Irene Luxbacher’s vibrant collage-style illustrations make this a strikingly original picture book.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

About the Authors

Nadia L. Hohn

NADIA L. HOHN est écrivaine, musicienne et éducatrice. Le manuscrit de son premier album illustré, Le costume de Malaika, a remporté le prix Helen Isobel Sissons Canadian Children’s Story. Elle vit à Toronto, où elle enseigne le français, la musique et les arts dans une école primaire alternative.

Nadia L. Hohn is a writer, musician and educator. The manuscript of Le costume de Malaika, her first picture book, won the Helen Isobel Sissons Canadian Children's Story Award. She lives in Toronto, where she teaches French, music and the arts at an alternative elementary school.

Irene Luxbacher

IRENE LUXBACHER est à la fois auteure, illustratrice et artiste. Elle a publié de nombreux livres d’activités artistiques et albums jeunesse dont Le jardin imaginaire de grand-papa, d’Andrew Larsen, mis en nomination pour le Prix du Gouverneur général dans la catégorie illustrations. Irene habite à Toronto où elle travaille actuellement à la création de nouveaux tableaux et albums.

IRENE LUXBACHER was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for her illustrations in Andrew Larsen’s Le jardin imaginaire de grand-papa and its sequel Une belle journée avec grand-papa. She has illustrated several other picture books, and her own Deep Underwater, Viens jouer, Matou, and Mr. Frank, as well as eight acclaimed children’s art activity books. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with her husband and young son. You can learn more about her work at ireneluxbacher.com.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
3 to 7
p to 3
Reading age:
3 to 7
  • Commended, Commended TD Grade One Book Giveaway Selection, 2021
  • Commended, USBBY's Outstanding International Books List
  • Runner-up, Américas Award Honorable Mention
  • Commended, Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Children and Teens, starred selection
  • Commended, School Library Journal Best Picture Books
  • Winner, Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Children's Literature Award
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets Honourable Mention
Editorial Reviews

. . . an engaging, poignant story with exquisite taste and wonderful details.

— Kinderlit

A wholly earned celebration.

— Kirkus

Hohn employs a unique style of voice that is both figuratively and literaly lyrical.

— Canadian Children's Book News

This is actually a realistic portrait of the consequences of global immigration and economics. But it’s also the story of how much little girls love their moms. Beautiful.

— Globe and Mail

Like a rainbow peacock itself, the illustrations in this book burst with a frenzy of colors and textures.

— Booklist Online

Malaika’s Costume is a highly recommended story that celebrates the different cultures of the world and the emotional journey of a young child.

— CM Magazine

A fun choice for libraries seeking books about creativity in general or the Caribbean in particular.

— School Library Journal

The text is told in the colloquial voice of the little girl, and readers will quickly and easily feel a part of her circle. Carnival is an important holiday in many cultures, and it's good to have a picture book to celebrate it.

— Horn Book

Buy the e-book:


Top  Grade
Librarian review

Malaika's Costume

It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved to Canada to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?

Indo-Caribbean students will connect to the story of the young girl who is waiting to be reunited with her mother who has moved to Canada. When teaching social studies, this book will help readers learn about Afrocentric identity, consider the diversity of families, the importance of carnival and cultural celebrations, and the specific bond between grandparent and grandchild. The idea of creating a costume is central to this story, thus inspiring students to share stories of costumes in their own lives.

Also available: Chin Chiang and the Dragon's Dance

Author available for school visits @Nadialhohn

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

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