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BRAVO ANJALI! by Sheetal Sheth


by Sheetal Sheth ; illustrated by Lucia Soto

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-73705-501-3
Publisher: Mango and Marigold Press

Anjali is the star of her tabla lessons, but not everyone supports her success.

Her friend Deepak, for example, makes fun of her and talks about her behind her back. It doesn’t help that many people assume that the Indian drumset is just for boys. Anjali tries to cope by confronting Deepak—unsuccessfully—and by pretending that she doesn’t know tabla as well as she actually does. Caught between her friendship and her talent, Anjali is so riddled with frustration that she must leave class in the middle of the day to go to the bathroom. While there, she meets a fifth grader named Tina who tells Anjali, “Never dim your light, girl.” Heeding the older student’s words, Anjali decides to embrace her talent and to celebrate her hard work, and by the end of the story, Anjali is shining bright. Soto’s cheery illustrations depict Anjali’s diverse elementary school and her love of music with equal flair. The book’s message, which feels aimed at young women of color, is both relevant and essential. Laudably, the author does not sugarcoat the consequences of being young, female, South Asian, and unafraid even as she gives Anjali strong support in both her parents and tabla teacher. At times, the text can be forced or stilted, but overall the book is inspiring without being preachy, all while delivering an essential message. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Celebrates shining bright even when others want us to dim our light.

(Picture book. 4-8)