My Dadima Wears a Sari (Kashmira Sheth)

Hello, friends! For our last review of AAPI Heritage Month, we’re reviewing My Dadima Wears a Sari, written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi, a lovely tale of tradition and cultural dress celebrating its 15th anniversary of publication.

Rupa’s dadima (Hindi for “grandmother”) wears a sari every single day, morning and night, at home and around town. She wears cotton saris and silk saris, tucking the pallu – the end of the sari – in tightly or letting it flow in the breeze. One day, Rupa asks Dadima why she doesn’t wear Western-style clothing like Rupa’s mother and little sister, Neha, and Dedima replies simply that she’s never even thought to, as she loves her saris and finds them very useful. For example, her sari can be used to fan herself and her granddaughters in the heat, or protect them from rain, or form a makeshift pouch for collecting seashells. When Neha joins them and asks her own questions about Dadima’s saris, the girls’ grandmother invites them to see the three most important saris of her life, and learn how to tie a saris of their own.

A beautiful look at cultural dress, and the ties it can have to one’s identity and memories. Sheth’s text balances nicely between conversational and poetic, highlighting the bond between the family as well as their emotional connection to the saris. Jaeggi’s pastel-heavy watercolors create charming characters and a beautiful sense of motion in the fabrics, though I feel it fails to capture the vibrance of color in traditional saris; Dadima’s red-and-gold wedding sari, for instance, reads as a faded rose rather than a rich scarlet. Backmatter features an author’s note on her own connection to saris, as well as photographic instruction on how to tie one. The length of the book makes this best for older elementary readers, as it does take a little more time to finish, but JJ loved the artwork. Overall, this is a lovely way to pay tribute to the cultural relevance of saris, and we enjoyed 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.)

Feast of Peas (Kashmira Sheth)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Feast of Peas, written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, a fable of mystery, deception, and vegetables.

Once upon a time in India, there was a humble man named Jiva, who worked in his garden all day to grow fresh vegetables. And among his okra and eggplants and beans, it was his pea plants he loved the best. He lovingly fusses over the little plants as they sprout, then blossom, then become tiny peapods, all the while singing a song of his excitement for his pea harvest. Yet when the day comes to harvest his peas, they are missing from the vine! Jiva’s friend Ruvji suggests that rabbits have stolen the peas, so Jiva builds a fence to protect his next crop… which also goes missing! Who is taking his beloved peas?! Jiva has a sneaking suspicion, and he’ll have to lay a clever trap to catch them in the act…

Fun! The mystery itself is a clever one, especially in the way the third act reveal plays out. Spoiler alert: Ruvji is stealing the peas and lying to his friend, and when caught, Jiva asks him to cook a feast of peas as penance. The food prepared looks absolutely scrumptious, and may convince little ones who avoid their peas to look at them in a new light. My only quibble is how quickly Ruvji is forgiven for his transgressions, which feel a lot crueler considering that he knows how much my friend Jiva loves his plants. Otherwise, lovely illustrations bring characters and backdrops to life, and are wonderfully infused with Indian culture and scenery. The length is best for ages 5 and up, though JJ was delighted with the repeated “feast of peas” song. It’s a unique book with a lot of magic going for it, and we enjoyed 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.)