Thursday, March 11, 2021

Review: Bindu's Bindis by Supriya Kelkar

This school year, my daughter's geography and history classes include a general look around the world—continents, countries, extremely important historic moments, climates, cultures, and the such. With the school year well past the half-way mark, she's slowly swooping through the last countries and was just recalling some of the things she learned yesterday in the car. One of the countries she seems to remember best is India. When she mentioned the bindis, I had to smile because guess what today's book is all about! 

Life is funny like that. Anyway, enjoy your dive into a cute tale about bindis.

by Supriya Kelkar
Illustrated by Parvati Pillai
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

A companion to Kelkar’s The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, this picture book features a little girl named Bindu whose bindis connect her to family and help her find courage to compete in the school talent show.

This charming picture book is about a little girl who loves her bindis (and the many creative shapes they come in!). The bindis are also a connection to her Nani who lives in India. When Nani comes to visit Bindu and brings the bindis to her, it is just in time to wear something new to the school talent show. Bindu and Nani work together to shine their brightest and embrace their sparkle, even when they stand out from the crowd.



                                         * bright, beautiful and bold illustrations
                                              * great for a read aloud
                                              * introduces Bindis
                                              * character to love


With colorful and vibrant illustrations, this book introduces young listeners not only to bindis and part of a rich culture but also hits upon other important themes, which young listeners can relate to.

Bindu has a bindi for every occasion and enjoys wearing them. When her Nani comes on the airplane and delivers them herself, it's a special surprise. But Bindu also begins to notice that not everyone around them is as accepting of the bindis. When the big day comes for a performance on stage, Bindu suddenly isn't so sure she wants to go up and perform. But Nani might be just the help she needs.

My favorite part about this book...okay, there are two favorite aspects...are the illustrations. These are so bright and bold, and allow the joy of life to beam from every page. And it's perfectly fitting to the vibrant colors found in several aspects of the culture in India. Plus, they are simply a joy to look at. Bindu and Nani are presented with warmth and love even when the situations aren't happy and Bindu needs to work through whatever problem she faces. 

As to the second plus point—the reader learns about bindis. Bindis are a more well-known aspect of India, and this book does a terrific job at letting readers learn what they are and mean. While the story itself gives a general glance at their importance to Bindu and the fun as well as huge variety involved, there's more detailed information at the end, which enables guardians/parents/caretakes to help listeners gain a greater understanding after the book is read.

The story is also very well done and sticks nicely to the intended age group. The first part allows Bindu's excitement and joy for her bindis to come through. Then, when Nani comes, it switches gears to illustrate how wearing a bindi in our Western culture does stand out. I do want to note that while I found it very important to show the unfortunate negative attention that wearing a bindi can receive (it is a sad fact), I was surprised that this was done by a crowd holding signs at an airport. While I'm not saying this doesn't happen somewhere and sometime, I believe the negativity usually comes across in daily life...not a protest. Otherwise, I found the negative glances and feelings well done and easy for young listeners to recognize and understand.

Then, there's Nani's amazing solution to Bindu's nervousness and fear to get onto the stage and show off her culture. This was done masterfully and in a very inspiring way.

In other words, I enjoyed this one quite a bit and give it a big thumbs up.

Book Buzz...

From beginning to end, Pillai has created rich, colorful cartoon-style illustrations with intricate details that give a nod to classical Indian artwork…. This #OwnVoices entry offers solutions as well as a healthy dose of joy.”~School Library Journal
“Bindu is a delightful protagonist whose emotional ups and downs are both familiar-feeling and fun to read about.… the ending is both realistic and uplifting, tying together a storyline that strikes an expert balance between drama and humor. …A beautiful intergenerational tale about the importance of embracing the parts of ourselves that others may find strange.”~Kirkus
“Pillai utilizes vibrant colors and wide-eyed, smiling faces to sustain the optimism of this sweet story of a little girl who just wants to be herself.”~Booklist

1 comment:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I always have a soft spot for books set in or about India because I met my late husband there. This sounds like an awesome picture book.