Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mama's Saris


Mama's Saris by Pooja Makhijani; illustrated by Elena Gomez. Copy supplied by author. Picture book.

The Plot:

A little girl wants to wear her mother's dress-up clothes. After all, she is grown up -- she's seven! And she's having a party -- so why not dress up in one of her mother's saris? As the girl helps her mother pick out which one of the special saris to wear that day, she holds out hope that Mama will say yes, she can dress up.

The Good:

I enjoyed that this is a story that is both unique (the saris, with details such as "The folds and nooks of Nanima's saris hold lots of secrets. I always find coins tied into the ends of safety pins fastened on the inside, and I smell the scent of cardamom and sandalwood soap all over"); yet universal (a child wanting to dress up in her mother's clothes).

I like the mother/daughter (and mother/daughter/grandmother) interaction in the book (which is why, yes, I'm actually organized enough to post this on Mother's Day!)*. In part because the narrator is older (7), and also the cultural information found within the text, this would work well as a read aloud for older kids.

I loved the illustrations; they spill out over the pages, much like the saris themselves. The colors and patterns of the saris fill the pages; I think the magenta one with deer is my favorite. The author's interview at Mitali's Fire Escape gives some insight on how Makhijani worked with the illustrator to ensure cultural accuracy. Oh! And there's an author's note and glossary, including the helpful information that there is no one way to wear a sari ("The style, color, and texture of this cloth vary and it can be draped in many ways, depending on the woman's status, age, occupation, and religion, as well as the region where the woman lives.")

Final point: If you have the opportunity to attend one of Pooja's workshops, do so! She's a great speaker and I was just floored by the amount of information (translation: stuff I didn't know and didn't think about) in her More Than Monkeys, Maharajahs, and Mangoes: An Overview of South Asian Literature for Kids presentation. (Love the title... If I was ever doing a presentation on Irish Lit for Kids, I'd use the title, More Than Leprechauns, the Famine, and Drunks. Doesn't sound quite as good as Pooja's; I'll have to work on that....)

Links:

Teacher's Guide
Saffron Tree review
Chicken Spaghetti review and Makhijani as guest columnist
Sepia Mutiny review
A Fuse #8 Production review
SAJAForum interview
Book Moot review

1 comment:

Liz in Ink said...

This sounds delightful. I wonder if there's a good list of culturally centered picture books out there? I might have to plow through our shelves -- my girls have ALWAYS loved books like these -- travel without the suitcase -- and there are so many fine examples...

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