By Pooja Makhijani
Illustrated by Elena Gomez
About the book:
What makes a little girl feel pretty and all grown-up? Dressing up like Mama, of course. When Mama pulls out her suitcase and reveals a treasure trove of silk, chiffon, and embroidered saris, her daughter is fascinated. If her mother is wearing a sari, she wants to wear one too! Mama’s Sari’s captures a tender and magical moment between a mother who cherishes her little girl and a daughter who can’t wait to grow up. A vibrant tapestry of jewl-like colors and intricate designs, Mama’s Sari’s is also an introduction to Indian culture and a celebration of its most timeless and traditional dress.
About the author:
Pooja Makhijani is the editor of Under Her Skin:How Girls Experience Race in America. Her writing for young adults has been published by Cicada, and her bylines have appeared in the New York Times, The Village Voice, and India Today. Raised in Edison, New Jersey, she now lives in New York City with her husband and her own collection of saris, which she keeps carefully folded in a suitcase under her bed, just like her mother does.
About the illustrator:
Elena Gomez has illustrated several books for children including Through the Heart of the Jungle, Elliot and the Big Wave, and A World of Prayers. She fondly recalls spending her childhood summers in Spain preparing for her town’s annual festival. “I still remember how exciting it was to put on all those bangles, earrings, and hair combs,” she says. “The best bit, though, was when my mother put her makeup on me. Working on Mama’s Saris has taken me back to those special moments with my mother.” Elena now divides her time between London and Paris.
When your mom is going someplace special how does she dress? What is your favorite thing of your mothers? Have you ever played dress up before in your mother or father’s clothing? Why do you think children like to play dress up?
1. What is a sari? In what country are they the traditional clothing? How do we learn about other people’s traditions? Why is it important?
2. When does the narrator’s mother usually wear a sari? What does she typically wear to work each day?
3. What special clothes do you wear for birthdays, holidays, and other celebrations?
4. Describe the sari’s that are in the suitcase. Which one would you like the best?
5. “When you get older,” is what Mama says when she asks to wear a sari. When do you hear this all to familiar phrase from your parents? What would you like to do that you must wait for?
6. Who wears a sari every day in the story? What smells remind the narrator of her grandmother? What scents remind you of your grandmother?
7. Why is the orange one with the fire edges a good choice for today?
8. How does the narrator convince her mother to let her wear a sari? What details convince Mama?
9. Describe what other embellishments are added to the outfit.
10. What do you think she loves best about wearing the sari? How will her friends react when they see her?
At the front of the book you’ll find a glossary of Hindi words used in the story. Are these necessary to understand the book? Why or why not? How can good writing explain a word without having to look up words in the dictionary?
Create a glossary of words (at least four) from your own family traditions or for an activity or sport in which you’re involved. Illustrate these words and try to use them in a story that does not require your reader to look them up to understand!
Sing to the tune “Frere Jacques”
Orange and blue
Folded pleats of secrets
Folded pleats of secrets
Try one on!
Try one on!
On a large white piece of rectangular paper create a design for a sari of your own. First, paint the background color (experiment mixing colors to get just the right hue you’re after) and then embellish with repeating designs. Will you add something along the borders? Will you add some type of sparkle?
Locate India on a globe and a world map and answer the following questions:
1. What countries border India?
2. What bodies of water surround it?
3. What island is off the tip of India?
4. Name five cities within the country.
5. What is its largest city?
This guide was created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer