Sugar in Milk
Word by Thrity Umrigar
Illustrated by Khoa Le
Sugar in Milk is a retelling of an old story of when the Persians came to India nestled inside the story of a young, immigrant girl who feels out of place in America.
Our narrator is unnamed, but her emotions are vivid and touching.
The story within the story is one I had heard of but was not familiar with. It goes that long ago when the Persians came to India they were not welcomed in at first because India was full, like a cup of milk up to the brim, but a wise Persian gently added sugar to the milk so it didn’t overflow but mixed and sweetened the whole cup. It’s a beautiful tale, and the book does it better justice.
One part I particularly enjoyed is that while there is conflict, there are no bad guys. Everyone, in both the modern part of the story and in the old story are portrayed sympathetically.
The art is gorgeous. All picture books are a wonderful pairing of art and text, where each compliments the other and brings more humor or meaning to the whole. The words and pictures of Sugar in Milk elevate each other and mesh together perfectly.
The book doesn’t shy away from the hardships of not understanding another person’s language and feeling like you don’t fit in, but it’s not sad at all. The ending is uplifting and sweet.
Be the sugar: smile and give joy and you receive those back.