cover image The Boy & the Bindi

The Boy & the Bindi

Vivek Shraya, illus. by Rajni Perera. Arsenal Pulp (Consortium, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55152-668-3

A small boy asks his mother about her bindi, the dot Hindu women wear on their foreheads: “Above her nose is where it goes./ What is this dot? I want to know!” He looks up at her in the bathroom as she peers into the mirror to make sure it’s in the right position. “My bindi keeps me safe and true,” she explains. “My bindi tells me where I’m from.” She offers the boy his own bindi—a break from convention, since they are more commonly worn by married women—and he senses its effects for himself. “As soon as it’s on, I feel so calm—/ Like all the noise around is gone.” The bindi watches over the wearer, “Making sure I don’t hide/ Everything I am inside.” Newcomer Perera’s illustrations sometimes stumble into cliché with stars and tie-dye effects, but other spreads compel attention. A tight-focused portrait of Ammi gazes out from the page; she’s strikingly beautiful, with dark skin, dark eyes, and swirling black hair. Shraya’s (God Loves Hair) story defines and affirms important values of Hindu culture—and nudges gender norms, as well. Ages 4–8. [em](Oct.) [/em]