Review: A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India

A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India
Author: Meera Sriram
Illustrator: Mariona Cabassa
Barefoot Books
Ages 4-8

Overall this was a lovely jaunt through an Indian market from the perspective of a precocious child. Highly recommend it.

This is a cute book about a little girl on a quest to buy her Amma (mother) a gift. She bounds out of her home on market day, navigating the market on her own, flitting from stall to stall. From the orange hues of saffron and marigolds, to the deep blue hues of indigo blue imprinted on fabric, each 2-page spread explores various aspects of indian culture through the colors of the rainbow. Meandering through crowded, narrow lanes our dark-skinned protagonist narrates the scents and sounds of the market as she contemplates what to get for her mother- the swish of marigold garlands, the scent of jasmine to perfume her mother’s braid, the rickshaw rushing by.   

The illustrations are vivid and bright, capturing the controlled chaos of a busy market with charming images. Each spread has LOTS to explore and I can see a child pouring over these gorgeous illustrations. The text is simple, two lines per page, but it weaves a fun story for a reader to follow. 

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the book, based on the author’s childhood experiences of markets in Chennai, depicted a southern Indian city. Most books available to American readers, as well as the prevalence of Bollywood, tends to portray Northern Indian culture as the default. This book, while featuring some light skinned Indians, focuses on portraying darker skinned Indian folks. For a culture that supports a billion dollar skin-lightening industry this is no small thing. And I’m here for it! On the other hand, there was a missed opportunity to fully develop the scenery when Cabassa made the choice to use scribbles instead of Tamil on the street/store signs.

The book ends with a glossary of terms and a nice spread with information on markets around the world. A fun jumping off point to discuss how things can be very different, yet so similar across the globe.

Overall this was a lovely jaunt through an Indian market from the perspective of a precocious child. Highly recommend it.

A Gift for Amma (Support an Independent Bookstore)*
A Gift for Amma (Amazon)*

My thanks to Barefoot Books for providing a Review Copy of this book. All opinions provided herein are my own.

More books for this Age Group can be found here.

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