In the timely yet timeless picture book Home Is in Between, critically acclaimed author Mitali Perkins and illustrator Lavanya Naidu describe the experience of navigating multiple cultures and embracing the complex but beautiful home in between.
Shanti misses the warm monsoon rains in India. Now in America, she watches fall leaves fly past her feet.
Still, her family’s apartment feels like a village: Mama cooking luchi, funny stories in Bangla, and Baba’s big laugh. But outside, everything is different – trick-or-treating, ballet class, and English books.
Back and forth, Shanti trudges between her two worlds. She remembers her village and learns her new town. She watches Bollywood movies at home and Hollywood movies with her friends. She is Indian. She is also American. How should she define home?
Shanti's story starts when her family leaves their village in India for an American town "with cold rain and orange and yellow leaves," and she begins to move back and forth between both cultures: "Remembering the village./ Learning the town./ Again and again./ In Between." At home, her mother teaches her traditional Indian dance; in town, her friend Tonya, who is Black, takes her to ballet. "Baba taught Shanti Bangla letters"; she reads him The Little Engine That Could in English. Her blue toy elephant accompanies her everywhere, a whimsical, consistent presence. One day, she hits a point of exhaustion: "If only her friends could learn the village./ If only her parents could learn the town./ Again and again./ In Between." Yet Shanti's soon ready to go on: "She was good at making/ anywhere feel like home./ Especially here./ In the space between cultures." Animation-style characters by Naidu (Susie Will Not Speak) reflect emotion clearly, while straightforward writing by Perkins (Between Us and Abuela) shows how Shanti learns to appreciate aspects of her new life while keeping people and elements from her old one close to her heart. Ages 3 6. \n