Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, American Desi by Jyoti Rajan Gopal!

Today's read was a surprise even for me. It just popped up in my box, yesterday. Now, usually that would mean a 2-3 month wait (if I think it's something my readers might like), but the original book I wanted to read today still isn't available (publishing was pushed back a few months). See, that's how the book world rumbles and tumbles and stays so unpredictable.

Which is fine because what's better than a colorful surprise, and this one promises to be that. 

by Jyoti Rajan Gopal
Illustrated by Supriya Kelkar
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Picture Book
40 pages 
ages 4 to 8

For fans of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, this poetic story filled with expressive art empowers South Asian children living in the United States and celebrates being bicultural.

Pavadais in bright gold colors
Jersey shirts and faded jeans
Swapping, changing, feeling seen...
Which is the color of me?

A young girl longs to know where she fits in: Is she American? Or is she Indian? Does she have to pick or can she be both? With bright, joyful rhyme, and paired with an immersive art style using American and Indian fabrics, American Desi celebrates the experiences of young children growing up first and second generation Indian American: straddling the two cultural worlds they belong to, embracing all they love of both worlds and refusing to be limited by either.

This story is a powerful tribute to the joy of being South Asian and for every reader who aspires to bridge their worlds with grace, grit, and confidence.



Colors explode in an exciting dance through texture, possibility, and all those things, which make us who we are.

This book is a celebration of variety: cultural, heritage, and much more. It takes an American girl, whose family stemmed from India. Since the two cultures can be very different, she swings through a world of variety to show all the wonderful things, which make her who she is...and that is good.

The energy and positivity swell from every page as a girl dances, hops, and skips from one artistic background to the other. The illustrations make this a whirlwind with whimsical flair as a color is presented in every scene before morphing into a little more detailed atmosphere with different foods, languages and such. The artist has added a huge variety of textures, which really makes each page shine. Sometimes, there's a touch of humor, too, but always a cheerful feeling.  It's really a feel-good book with a positive message

The text flows with a musical flair, drawing in and inviting to the same fun. It's written in flowing rhyme and always ends with a phrase similar to 'The colors of me.' It's catchy and ties everything up nicely.

This is also a lovely way to touch upon the topic of being multi-cultural. While these pages swing toward the South-Asian culture (which is a bonus and lovely aspect all in itself), the same thoughts apply to other mixes just with different details. Thanks to the more indirect manner used in these pages, applying it to all mixes really isn't difficult. But then, it even can be tied to those, who aren't multi-cultured in the traditional sense, since this 'different colors of me' aspect can apply in so many ways.

This is a up-beat read, which works great in a group or single setting, inspires, and offers tons of self-confidence.

And here they are...

Jyoti Rajan Gopal is a kindergarten teacher, writer, and mom who loves taking any opportunity to break out her Bollywood moves and hip-hop grooves. She grew up in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, India, and China and now lives in New York City, so she knows what it feels like to be caught between multiple cultures. She chooses to embrace all her wondrous colors! This is her debut children’s book.
Supriya Kelkar grew up in the Midwest, where she learned Hindi as a child by watching three Hindi movies a week. Supriya is a screenwriter who has worked on the writing teams for several Hindi films and one Hollywood feature. She is the author of Bindu’s BindisAmerican as Paneer Pie; and Strong as FireFierce as Flame, among others. This is her debut illustrated book. She invites you to visit her online at

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