In collaboration with Tulika Books, we present book reviews every month of new age stories and age old fables, to preserve and promote the habit of reading amongst all children.
This World Saree Day, your social media feed would be flooded with nostalgic saree pictures. Each post would have a beautiful sentiment or story attached with the saree. In the midst of those stories, we present a heartwarming tale of a little girl and her sister setting out to buy a saree for their mother.
A Saree for Ammi, written by children’s writer Mamta Nainy and illustrated by animator-illustrator Sandhya Prabhat, is a tale about the plight of India’s artisans, the growing economic divide and about a child’s compassion towards her mother.
A young girl, living with her ammi, abba, and elder sister, is the story’s protagonist. Living in a small village in Kota, Rajasthan, she belongs to a family of weavers. Her abba dyes the threads in splendid colours and her ammi weaves the threads into even more splendid sarees.
The little girl doesn’t miss a single detail of her parents’ lives. She notices her ammi’s fingers moving to the click-clack sound of the loom, her abba going to the haat to sell the sarees, which her ammi has woven, and she notices that her ammi doesn’t wear any of the sarees that she weaves. Instead, in stark contrast to her creations, ammi only dons a torn, old salwar kammez.
One day, after ammi completes working on one of her finest sarees, her little daughter innocently asks her to keep that saree for herself, to which her mother promptly replies with a fat frown “If we keep the sarees, how will we eat?”
Thinking to herself, “we don’t eat sarees, do we?” ammi’s little girl is not convinced about her response. She decides to collect some money with the help of her sister, Sadaf, and present her ammi with her very own saree. The enterprising siblings set off on an adventure that includes breaking open their gullak, selling scrap to the local scrap dealer, Jhammu kaka, and even colouring threads for another weaver, Amina khala. The adventure ends on a sweet note with the question “when Sadaf and I give that saree to Ammi, what will she say, we wonder …”
Prabhat’s vibrant illustrations in vivid shades, supplement Nainy’s storyline, seamlessly. The illustrations are effective in bringing the characters to life and ensure that the book’s readers remain glued to each page in awe.
This innocent tale is a gateway for its young readers (age 5+) into many new worlds. Beginning with an introduction to India’s weavers and many artisans, A Saree for Ammi, also sensitizes children towards our society’s economic divide. Lack of empathy is often attributed to lack of awareness. Unknowingly, children are raised in a cocoon, sheltered from the world, unaware of the many worlds different from their own. With A Saree for Ammi, children are introduced to values such as empathy, compassion, and gratitude.
Published by Tulika Books and available in major Indian languages, such as Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, in addition to English, A Saree for Ammi, is a must-have in your library and a must-read in your reading list.