A magical character which likes mithai (Indian sweets) features in a new children's book being released head of Diwali.

‘Twas the Night Before Diwali, written by Zenia Wadhwani and illustrated by Manon Larivière, is a South Asian take on the famous Christmas poem written in 1823.

Wadhwani said, "We are living through such challenging and changing times, and I felt I just had to do this project now, not only for me, but for my daughter." 

"There’s such a lack of diversity in children’s literature, and while it’s getting better, there’s a long way to go.

"It's important for me to find and read enriching books to my daughter that include people from different cultures celebrating their traditions. It invites other children to experience stories as windows, inviting them into a new culture."

Gurbir Jolly, Associate Professor, Children, Childhood and Youth Studies, York University, said, “Wadhwani's nimble rhythm and Larivière's spirited illustrations present 'Twas the Night Before Diwali as a poetically and visually rich invitation to come inside, join the fun, and savour the sweetness of it all."

"This children's book can easily stand alone as a treasured celebratory text, but the extended pleasure of immersing yourself in this work involves savouring its many nuances.”

The 32-page story is a self-published passion project that was originally inspired nine years ago when Wadhwani was pregnant and staring at a large tray of mithai on Diwali.

After taking a playful photo, pretending she was about to devour it all, she came up with the Mithai Monster character who makes its debut in this book.

Based on the lunar calendar this year, Diwali falls on November 14th.

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