This beautifully illustrated, rhythmic tale unfortunately reinforces stereotypes about gender, religion, and language....

A tailor fulfills his dream of stitching something for his family in this Indian import that adapts a familiar Yiddish tale.

When poor but talented tailor Rupa Ram goes to a wedding, he is given the gift of a saafa, a colorful headpiece made of fine cloth. Rupa Ram wears the saafa until it wears out—but instead of throwing it away, he salvages what is left to make an odhni (scarf) for his wife. When she wears it out, he uses scraps to make a kurta (shirt) for his son, and, with his son’s scraps, a gudiya (doll) for his daughter. At last the tailor is left with the most precious thing of all: a kahaani, or story, which will never wear out. Surendranath’s vibrant illustrations burst with life and color, and such details as the school where Rupa Ram’s wife teaches add welcome dimension to the story’s characters. Venkat’s text is rhythmic, simple, and cleverly repetitive, but ultimately, the stereotypes it reinforces detract from its charm. Leaving the daughter with only scraps is a cycle that reflects deeply entrenched gender hierarchies. Additionally, the glossary in this U.S. edition erases India’s diversity by referring to a saafa as a “garment worn by Indian men at weddings,” implying that all Indian weddings are Hindu and that all cultures in India practice this regional tradition. The tale’s source is given only as “a European folktale.”

This beautifully illustrated, rhythmic tale unfortunately reinforces stereotypes about gender, religion, and language. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-81-9338-890-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Karadi Tales

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


Egg-stra special.

The creators of Pick a Pine Tree (2017) and Pick a Pumpkin (2019) cover each step of a popular Easter tradition.

The first stop for a light-skinned caregiver and child is the farm. Peering into the henhouse, they spot an egg (reminding readers that eggs don’t originate at the grocery store). More eggs are collected throughout the spring countryside and brought home, ready to hard boil. While the eggs are cooling, it’s time to prepare the dye! The lively text highlights natural methods first (“Stew some plants / to make a brew: / beets turn eggs / a rosy hue. / Spinach? Green! / Berries? Blue! / Try some herbs / or spices, too”) but also gives a nod to store-bought kits. After a full day of egg decorating, the youngster wakes up the next morning for a festive neighborhood egg hunt. Happily, treats found inside plastic eggs are not limited to sugar only; they include secret notes, tiny toys, and coins, too. (The child adds their dyed eggs to this bounty.) Sprays of bright greens, a shining sun, and dotted buds on trees as well as pastel bunting and fuzzy bunny ears and flower crowns on little ones bring a light, airy lift to this joyful community gathering. The children involved in the egg hunt are diverse in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Egg-stra special. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2847-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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