Cover Image: Once Upon a Sari

Once Upon a Sari

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Member Reviews

Do you have a cherished item or keepsake that you just cannot get rid of because of its sentimental value? What story does it tell?

Avani loves taking out her Mama’s beautiful saris and playing with them, in ONCE UPON A SARI (written by Zenia Wadhwani, illustrated by Avani Dwivedi, published by Tundra Books). Avani is mesmerized by all the different colours, textures, and embroidery of each one! Just as when she thought Mama would get angry with the mess she made with all the saris, Mama tells her that each sari has a story. One by one, Mama tells a rapt Avani the story behind each sari as she puts them away. As Mama folds up the last sari, Avani spots a black silk bag. Inside it, is another tightly packed sari. What is the story behind this sari? Why does Mama say there is a sad and long story behind it?

This identity-affirming, heart-warming book is a beautiful one with its rich and colourful illustrations, and the connection of saris to family members, special moments, and a family’s roots. A book that celebrates and normalizes diversity will always earn a spot on my inclusive bookshelf!

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A girl admires her mother's sari collection and has taken them out and spread them all over the room. Her mother understands as she too did the same thing with her mother's saris. The mother explains that it is important to remember the stories that are attached to each sari and to cherish the memories.

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Have you ever seen the incredibly beautiful saris some ladies wear to the stores? This is a story about one girl's history of the saris in her mother's closet. Each story has its own history and even tells which area of India it came from! Amazing!
The illustrations by Avani Dwivedi are clear, imaginative, fantastically colorful, informative, and FUN!
Well suited for reading WITH someone of any age including ESL, and great for gifting to anyone, but especially to a school or your local public library!
I requested and received a free temporary e-book on Adobe Digital Editions from Penguin Random House Canada | Tundra Books via NetGalley. Thank you!
Available 07 May 2024 #CanadianAuthor

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I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Once Upon a Sari by Zenia Wadhwani is a picture book highlighting broader Indian culture and the connections clothing can have to the biggest moments in our lives. Avani is a young girl looking through her mother’s saris when her mother finds her. Instead of scolding Avani, the mother tells Avani the stories of where many of her saris come from.

The art is beautiful and the color palette works with the word choices to name different shades. Blues, greens, reds, and yellows have several tones mentioned (such as saffron and pistachio), creating an opportunity to teach or reinforce shade names for young readers who are also budding artists or for use in the art classroom. It also serves to show young readers who might not be familiar with saris just how colorful and vibrant they can be.

I really liked the little touches that further deepened the representation of India (such as chai and the mention of Tamil Nadu and where it is in India). Avani’s mother mentioned a time in history when many people had to leave their homes and her mother could only take a few things with her. While I’m not familiar with this exact moment in history, it opens the doors for readers who are curious to do their own research and for guardians/educators to discuss refugees and war with young readers.

I would recommend this to guardians and educators looking for picture books focusing on broader Indian culture, young readers who are also interested in art or colors, and shoppers looking for a picture book about a South Asian culture.

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The Diverse Baseline

September Prompt C: A picture/children’s book by a BIPOC author

Avani, like my younger self, goes through her mother's closet and begins to make a mess as she tries things on. When her mom comes in, she expects to be scolded, but instead, she is told the story of sari, where they come from, what color they are, and the history of the Partition of India. I knew I'd love this, but I didn't think it'd make me cry.

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This book was illustrated so beautifully. We loved all the color and the settings. We also loved the story and learning more about the culture and history of India.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an electronic copy to read in exchange for an honest review.

This is such a gorgeous picture book! The vocabulary used to describe the colours of the saris is perfection! I love how I can learn more about different regions where a sari has its own style. This is a fantastic picture book and I cannot wait to add a copy to my classroom library!

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This book was beautiful and I am so glad I had the opportunity to read a copy! I loved the celebration of the main character's heritage and the stories behind each of her mother's saris. I also loved that the connection between mother and daughter also spanned up to include the grandmother - I appreciated the multi-generational storytelling. Beautiful illustrations with gorgeous colours - I highly recommend this book.

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Great story, about the story behind a sari. This was educational to my 4 year old and myself. I loved all the colorful descriptions of the many different colored saris.

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This beautifully illustrated picture book highlights Indian culture and the experiences of some immigrant families. As the book begins, a young girl is playing with her mother's saris, exploring their colors and beautiful designs. When her mother catches her with all the saris out on the floor, the little girl expects to get scolded, but instead, her mother sits down with her and introduces her to the different memories and associations behind each of the saris, both from the mother's personal life and their family's history.

The illustrations are beautiful and colorful, and the story will appeal to people who identify with the characters' culture, and to those who would like to learn more about it. This is a lovely family story, and it is very well-written, with rhythmic, expressive text and creative word choices. I really enjoyed this, and would recommend it.

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Book 142 of 200 ~ 2023


It was subconscious. I reckon that I picked the last couple of titles during Diwali weekend!

Omg, the illustrations for these are also glorious and gorgeous. The story about a mom and daughter going through past memories that were triggered by the various saris was heartwarming.

These last couple of books have been wonderful to go through and savour.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Little Avani, overcome with an insatiable desire to explore her mother’s dazzling array of saris, pulls all of them from the cupboard and spreads them on the floor in a tangled heap. When her mother peeps inside the room, Avani’s heart skips a beat. Would she get punished for her transgression? Would she get a rollicking from her Mum?

Zenia Wadhwani in an appealingly illustrated picture book, weaves a heartwarming story that is all about nostalgia and precious moments that instill not just curiosity, but also the beginnings of culture in a little girl. After catching Avani in the act of strewing her precious saris all over the floor, her mother sits next to the child and explains not just the technical intricacies associated with each sari, but also the lingering memories attached to them.

A dazzling Kanchipuram silk saree procured in joyous times shares shelf space with a sombre and prosaic counterpart that has a seeped and melancholic history emanating from the partition of India and Pakistan.

“Once Upon a Sari” – Not just a passing story.

(Once Upon a Sari is published by Penguin Random House, Canada, Tundra Books, and will be available on sale beginning 7 May 2024. )

(Thank You Net Galley for the Advance Review Copy)

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**Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Rnandom House Canada for this ARC in exchange for an honest review**

Avani has strown all of her mother's saris around on the floor. Her mother finds her there, and uses the moment as an opportunity to tell her daughter all the stories behind the saris - where they came from, what she wore them for, the names for the different styles, and the family history hidden within.

This is a great story about culture and family.

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This story was simple and well written. It conveys the importance of memories and family history. The use of the.
Mother’s saris was brilliant. The illustrations were beautiful. This review is voluntary and my own opinion after reading an advanced reading copy tjs is NetGalley. Highly recommend. A 5 star for me.

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I love to read stories about different cultures. The Mother in this story teaches her daughter that all of her saris tell a story, a special memory. I think saris are so beautiful. There was also a little history lesson in here. The illustrations were bright and cheerful. Looking forward to more by this author. I was blessed with a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. My review is unbiased and my own opinion.

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This title was so cute! the pictures were so colorful and filled with love. I learned something new as well!

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This would be a perfect mentor text for teaching personal narratives. I loved the connection the mother and daughter had and how she explained the story behind each sari and the memories they held.

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I really enjoyed this book during which a mother is able to share stories from her life with her young daughter through the saris she wore for the various events. The story was wonderful and told of the importance of knowing our histories, and the illustrations, with all the saris in various colours were beautiful and eye catching. I think this would be a good book for most kids to showcase some of the Indian culture.

I received an advanced copy from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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What a beautiful story. Colourful amazing illustrations. The saris providing the connection and memories from mother to daughter is powerful and important. This book will be in my school and class library. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book in advance,

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