An unnamed South Asian boy becomes fascinated with the decoration on his mother's brow, and when she explains what it means to her, he asks for one of his own.
The bindi makes him feel safe, calm, sure. His white friends at the playground wonder what it is, and he has trouble explaining, but he decides he'll never be without it. He feels small and ugly sometimes, but the bindi brings beauty where there was none. Shraya uses rhyme, sometimes a bit awkwardly, to tell her tale. At the end, her protagonist imagines readers asking, "Why is it so special anyway?" More sure of himself now, the boy explains that it's like a third eye watching over him, reminding him not to hide himself away and to embrace his potential self. The bright, beautiful illustrations by Perera do the heavy lifting, symbolically infusing the boy’s cultural difference with the spiritual power it carries for the wearer. The book does not say that bindis are mainly worn by Hindu women in relation to their marital status, allowing readers familiar with the culture to imagine what it means for the boy's mother. Her decision to give one to her son opens up discussions of gender within cultural norms, including the fact that some Hindu men wear bindis for spiritual reasons unrelated to marital status.
The mostly easy rhyming and vivid colors make this an unforgettable look into Hindu culture. (Picture book. 4-8)