A Sari For Ammi (Mamta Nainy)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Sari For Ammi, written by Mamta Nainy and illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat, a beautiful tale of family love.

In the village of Kaithoon in India, the unnamed narrator lives with her mother (Ammi), her father (Abba), and her sister Sadaf. The entire family works together to run the family’s business, making and selling saris in the haat (bazaar), but it’s Ammi who is the true talent, skillfully weaving intricate and beautiful patterns into the material, sometimes taking months to complete even one sari. Yet despite her beautiful work, Ammi only wears old salwar-kameez, never keeping her work so as not to eat into the family’s profits. The narrator becomes determined to purchase one of her mother’s beautiful saris as a gift, and enlists Sadaf’s help. Together, the girls embark on money-making endeavor that explores their town’s unique culture. Can they pull together enough for Ammi’s gift?

Touching. This lovely tale of two daughters’ devotion to their mother weaves together elements of Indian culture and the history of Kaithoon, a town known for its particularly unique and intricate saris, made using a special weaving process passed down through generations. Bold text emphasizes important topics and Hindi words, yet leaves the definitions to a backmatter glossary, keeping the text conversational and engaging. The colorful digital artwork is as bright and intricate as Ammi’s saris, giving great charm to the girls, their family, and their neighbors and community. And the story of the girls’ sacrifice and work to buy a gift for their mother is quite moving, showing both a youthful, guileless spirit of kindness as well as a realistic peek at the economics of a working-class family, a surprisingly underrepresented group in picture books. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ loved the artwork and learning the Hindi vocabulary. Overall, we liked this one a lot – an endearing tale of family love that opens a door to a special place and culture. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Queen Of The Hanukkah Dosas (Pamela Ehrenberg)

Hello, friends! Our review today is the festive and fun Queen Of The Hanukkah Dosas, written by Pamela Ehrenberg and illustrated by Anjan Sarkar.

A young boy is concerned about his family’s tradition. See, every year, his mixed-race family blends their traditions together, making Indian dosas to celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. But this year, he is worried that his toddler-aged sister Sadie, who has recently taken up a major interesting in climbing, will ruin everything. He voices his concerns to his mom, his dad, his Amma-Amma, but no one seems to take it too seriously. Then just as the boy predicted, Sadie creates a ruckus at the Indian market by climbing a tower of caned coconut milk. Thinking quickly, the boy makes up a ditty to the tune of the Dreidel Song: “I had a little dosa, I made it out of dal”. This delights Sadie, and she agrees to come down. Again and again, as the family makes the dosas together over the next two days, the boy uses his special song to help keep Sadie away from the dosas and out of harm’s way. That is until the whole family accidentally get locked out of the house – with the dosas still cooking! Suddenly, Sadie’s climbing may be their only hope – and the boy’s song be the best chance of helping.

Adorable. A wonderfully unique story and characters, an entertaining and engaging plot, and a lovely depiction of two cultures coming together with one family. The art is colorful, with friendly-faces characters yet fine attention to detail where the cooking and Hanukkah celebrations are concerned. There’s even recipes for dosas and sambar in the back. The length is perfect, JJ and I loved it, and we definitely recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth (Sanjay Patel & Emily Haynes)

Hello, everyone! Well, we’re back home, but JJ managed to catch a nasty cold while we visited her grandparents. Fortunately, a good book can be a nice remedy, so today we read Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel & Emily Haynes. This is a fantastic retelling of how the god Ganesha helped to write the epic Hindu poem, the Mahabharata.

Ganesha is a little kid like any other, except that he has the head of an elephant and rides around on his magical friend Mr. Mouse. And like so many kids, Ganesha loves sweets. One day, while enjoying a super jumbo jawbreaker laddoo candy, he breaks off one of his tusks! He is heartbroken, until his broken tusk leads to him meeting a wise old man named Vyasa, who convinces Ganesha that he and his broken tusk may just be fated to help write the greatest poem ever written.

There was so much to love about this book! First, the art: gorgeous colors and Indian designs leap off of every page, giving the illustrations a uniquely authentic look that fit the classic story perfectly: traditional yet modern. I loved that the author and illustrator found such a great way to tell a classic legend to children: it allows for exploration and discussion of Hindu traditions and faith for the unfamiliar, and gives Hindu children a fun and modern way to learn one of their classic stories. Additionally, the length is perfect for baby bookworms, and JJ absolutely adored the story and the illustrations. This was an awesome book, and we loved it! Baby Bookworm approved!

The Wheels On The Tuk Tuk (Kabir Sehgal & Surishtha Sehgal)

Summer Reading Day 79: Our book today was The Wheels On The Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, an awesome look at Indian culture told through a twist on a familiar tune. Set to “Wheels on the Bus,” Wheels On The Tuk Tuk can be read or sung (though JJ definitely preferred singing), and explores a different part of an Indian street scene in each verse. From yogis, to sacred cows, poppadoms, chai, rupees and Diwali, the tuk tuk wala takes his passengers and the readers on a fun and educational ride.

This was such a cool book! Using such a well-known rhyme is a perfect way to learn new words and traditions for little ones. It was a great length for JJ, and she loved singing and bouncing on my knee as we read (and side note: this was one of the most fun books for me TO read that we’ve reviewed so far), plus the illustrations by Jess Golden are adorable, colorful and beautiful. Lastly, as much fun as JJ had with it, older kids would love this book because it teaches so many awesome Indian and Hindi cultural elements: in addition to the rhyme, there is also a glossary in the back that explains all the references. This one is absolutely Baby Bookworm approved! We loved it!