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.)

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.)