That Night, a picture book by Bijal Vachharajani shortlisted for the Neev Book Award 2022 in the Emerging Readers category, speaks to readers of all ages. Be they seven or seventeen, this poignant tale has moved plenty of young children. Here are two student voices.
Grade 10 student Noyonika Arun writes:
The book That Night by Bijal Vachharajani is a strikingly beautiful story about immigration and belonging. It follows a young girl named Chaithu on a night where her father is called away by “angry voices”. The short narration is complemented with vivid pictures which express the emotions of fear and confusion experienced by the protagonist. Although the words used are simple, and the sentences short, the book portrays deeper problems in our society. The book manages to explain these issues
in a simple manner for a younger audience, by expressing the issue in a way children would understand, rather than oversimplifying the problem itself. The lack of context or setting for the story may be seen as a bad choice by some, but I personally found that it made the book a lot more interesting. Also, by not giving context it makes the reader think about just how many places this same story has taken place in, and allows us to reflect on the nature of humanity. Although the story has a “happy ending”, it makes me think about the people who didn’t have that happy ending to their story.
Grade 6 student Mila Mendez writes:
That Night is a wonderful book for early readers to start learning about important issues in our world like regionalism and communalism, and how different communities are treated around the world, and more topics which parents usually don’t have the courage to discuss with their little children. Bijal Vachharajani displays how families are split apart during riots and what would happen if they refused to leave. This picture book helps children understand that the world around them is not limited to the four corners that they know of. The new generation should know about all these issues by the time they are in 2nd grade, because if they are unaware of such globally impacting events, they would have a very hard time facing things they were never prepared for. This is why I think every child should read this book, whether in K1 or 12th.