Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Bindu's Bindis by Supriya Kelkar and Parvati Pillai


First things first: A bindi is the decoration South Asian females often wear on their foreheads, which is known as a "third eye" and is meant to keep evil away. I thought that was what a bindi was, as I went into the reading of Bindu's Bindis, but I wasn't certain so I looked it up. It's good to know that going into the book, in case the child you're reading to has questions. 

Bindu is an American girl who loves wearing bindis. She wears different designs depending upon her mood, using stick-on bindis that come in a variety of colors and shapes. Her grandmother sends her a new set each month and she wears them to the temple, on holidays, and at home. Then, one month her grandmother brings them to Bindu in person. 

Bindu wears a "brilliant oval bindi" to greet her grandmother, or Nani, at the airport. But, when they turn from the gate, her family is surprised to find that they're being greeted by protestors with signs telling them to go home. Bindu holds her head up high and so does Nani. 

Nani has always loved dancing and she teaches Bindu some of her moves. When Bindu dresses up to dance in a school assembly, she's excited at first. But, then some of the children giggle at her beautiful outfit and she's hesitant. Nani tries to excite her by offering different bindis for Bindu to try but it doesn't work. So, Nani goes up on the stage and starts dancing, then Bindu joins her. 

Recommended - I like the story, love the vibrant illustrations in Bindu's Bindis, and particularly appreciated the fact that there are two separate challenges that are tied together: dealing with protestors who are xenophobic and children who make Bindu nervous about her ethnicity. Both are obviously common, right now, in the US. There was one thing I wish the author had done and that's add a single sentence or phrase defining the word "bindi" at the beginning of the book. However, once you know what it is, you know . . . and there's no longer a need for a description. So, after I thought about it for a while, I decided it's no big deal. Bindu's Bindis is a children's picture book, after all, and the illustrations alone make it pretty clear. There is some information about who wears bindis, other names for them, and why they're worn, in the back of the book. 

Incidentally, as I was reading the scene with Nani getting up on stage, I was reminded of the similar scene in About a Boy when Hugh Grant gets up on stage and makes a fool of himself to encourage his young friend to perform. I love the cringeworthy humor of that scene (and the movie, in general), so Nani's dancing brought back a fond memory. In Bindu's Bindis you get a similar feeling from Nani's dancing. It's a little uncomfortable but her joy is infectious. I wanted it to be real and to be transported into that scene. 

My thanks to Sterling Children's Books for the review copy!

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