The book, a veritable feast for the eyes, begins with the exclamation “It’s market day in town!” (The author tells us at the end of the book that the market in this story is based on the ones in her hometown, Chennai, in India.) A little girl goes to the market to choose something special for her mother. As she makes her way through the colorful bazaar, she wonders, “Which gift is as special as my Amma?” I could empathize with her dilemma as she considered each gloriously-depicted item in turn:
Charcoal for roasting
Indigo cotton for clothes
Terracotta pots for the kitchen
. . . .
What would her mother (Amma) want? The little girl finally settles on something:
“I pick a bangle in every shade
And hand over my pocket money.
. . . . a rainbow just for Amma!”
At the end of the story, the author adds information about each of the items the little girl passed at the bazaar, and highlights some notable markets from around the world. Real photos of the author at her hometown market conclude the book.
In an interview, the author explained:
“I grew up in India and every time I stepped out to the street, there was so much to take in – colors, textures, smells, chaos, sounds! But capturing and packing all of that into a picture book manuscript was the challenge.”
She more than rose to the occasion in this book, with no little help from her wonderful illustrator, Mariona Cabassa. Cabassa has created incredibly vivid pictures in a riot of color so evocative of the senses you will want to look at them over and over. In fact, I thought she was perhaps “enhancing” the visual experience of a market until I saw the actual photos at the end of the book, which are very similar. The pictures and text will have you dreaming of travel so you can experience markets like this.
Evaluation: Readers will be entranced by this presentation of the sights, sounds, and colors of an Indian market.
Published by Barefoot Books, 2020
Note: I was gifted a copy of “A Gift for Amma” by Meera Sriram to review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. (My opinions on the book are strictly my own, of course.)
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) (MCBD) is in its 8th year. This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.
Eight years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about their Mission & History here and check out their huge well-organized list of links to free resources for teachers and parents highlighting diversity book lists and activities here.
To see other reviews of diverse books for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, check out the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media!