The Boy & the Bindi

The Boy & the Bindi

Book - 2016
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In this beautiful children's picture book by Vivek Shraya, author of the acclaimed God Loves Hair, a five-year-old South Asian boy becomes fascinated with his mother's bindi, the red dot commonly worn by Hindu women to indicate the point at which creation begins, and wishes to have one of his own. Rather than chastise her son, she agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself.
Publisher: Vancouver, BC : Arsenal Pulp Press ; [2016]
ISBN: 9781551526683
Branch Call Number: JP Shray
Characteristics: 1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: Boy and the bindi

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forbesrachel Aug 30, 2017

In this rhyming picture book, a young boy decides to wear a colourful bindi between his brows just like his Ammi. He is fascinated by its beauty, and its relevance, once his mother explains why she puts it on. Like her, the boy finds that it calms him and opens his mind. It is a source of identity, and even cultural pride. Others may find it a curiosity, but to him, it is important. The most disappointing thing about this book is that the quality of the writing doesn't match the beauty of the idea. The rhyme is uninspired, and the lines seem to have been pieced together with little care for meter or formula; when read aloud, it sounds rather awkward. Shraya explains well, but doesn't express well. The illustrations on the other hand do a lot to raise the quality overall. Perera portrays both the everyday, and the more spiritual experience of the boy, pulling out all the stops in terms of colour for the latter. The bindi is such a little thing, but it is significant in the Hindu culture and others. More books like this are needed, both for the children who can benefit from seeing their own culture represented, and for the children who can benefit from learning about, and from, a culture that is not their own.

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