A Garland of Henna

Illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan
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Hardcover
$18.99 US
| $24.99 CAN
On sale Jun 11, 2024 | 32 Pages | 978-0-593-32511-7
Age 3-7 years | Preschool - 2
Reading Level: Lexile AD520L
Nikita’s family takes pride in creating beautiful henna art, and she’s ready to try her hand at it—but it’s harder than it looks!

Nikita is part of a long line of henna artists. Her grandmother even brought a treasured notebook of designs with her to the US when she moved here from India. But the first time Nikita tries to make henna art, the mehndi paste looks like an ugly blob, and she feels like giving up. Still, she continues watching her mother and grandmother make gardens bloom on hands and is intrigued by the beauty of it all. Will she find the courage to try again?            

New York Times bestselling author Varsha Bajaj’s poetic text and Archana Sreenivasan’s dynamic illustrations perfectly capture Nikita’s frustration, then pride, as she takes part in a beautiful family tradition.
“Bajaj sensitively explores the frustration children encounter when trying new tasks. With gentle coaxing from her family, Nikita learns to trust herself and take pride in her henna art. Dynamic illustrations filled with traditional floral designs of creeping vines, blossoming flowers, and paisleys trail across the pages. The hues of henna—which is dark green when first applied and dries to a warm red—are reflected in the earthy colors throughout the story. A warm and tender tale of family traditions.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Born into ‘a long garland/ of teachers and keepers of art,’ a girl worries over her early efforts at rendering henna designs in this rhythmically narrated and lusciously drawn tale. . . . Henna art motifs swirl throughout Sreenivasan’s gold- and olive-hued digital drawings, offering henna portraits of Nikita’s family, while Bajaj’s prose amplifies various aspects of henna art in this connective work.” —Publishers Weekly

“The familiar picture book theme of persistence is given a fresh, distinct style here, as garlands of henna designs wind through the textured, vibrant art, eventually culminating in a triumphant spread that sees the smiling faces of Nikita, Nani, and Mom beaming from flowers. Nikita is a wonderfully relatable protagonist, and her frustration, fear, and pride are deftly conveyed through body posture—the hunched shoulders and locked knees as she marches off in anger will surely be recognizable to any kid or caretaker. . . . A compassionate look at the effort it sometimes takes to get the family tradition down just right.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Varsha Bajaj (varshabajaj.com) is the author of the middle-grade novels Count Me In (a Global Read Aloud Selection) and Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood (shortlisted for the Cybils Award and included on the Spirit of Texas Reading Program). She also wrote the picture books The Home Builders and This Is Our Baby, Born Today (a Bank Street Best Book). She grew up in Mumbai, India, and when she came to the United States to obtain her master’s degree, her adjustment to the country was aided by her awareness of the culture through books. She lives in Houston, Texas. View titles by Varsha Bajaj
Archana Sreenivasan is a freelance illustrator based in Bangalore, India. Her illustrations have been published in magazines, children's books, book covers, and comics. She finds the natural world and people watching most inspiring and engaging. She is an alumna of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. In 2015 she attended the summer residency in illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. View titles by Archana Sreenivasan
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About

Nikita’s family takes pride in creating beautiful henna art, and she’s ready to try her hand at it—but it’s harder than it looks!

Nikita is part of a long line of henna artists. Her grandmother even brought a treasured notebook of designs with her to the US when she moved here from India. But the first time Nikita tries to make henna art, the mehndi paste looks like an ugly blob, and she feels like giving up. Still, she continues watching her mother and grandmother make gardens bloom on hands and is intrigued by the beauty of it all. Will she find the courage to try again?            

New York Times bestselling author Varsha Bajaj’s poetic text and Archana Sreenivasan’s dynamic illustrations perfectly capture Nikita’s frustration, then pride, as she takes part in a beautiful family tradition.

Reviews

“Bajaj sensitively explores the frustration children encounter when trying new tasks. With gentle coaxing from her family, Nikita learns to trust herself and take pride in her henna art. Dynamic illustrations filled with traditional floral designs of creeping vines, blossoming flowers, and paisleys trail across the pages. The hues of henna—which is dark green when first applied and dries to a warm red—are reflected in the earthy colors throughout the story. A warm and tender tale of family traditions.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Born into ‘a long garland/ of teachers and keepers of art,’ a girl worries over her early efforts at rendering henna designs in this rhythmically narrated and lusciously drawn tale. . . . Henna art motifs swirl throughout Sreenivasan’s gold- and olive-hued digital drawings, offering henna portraits of Nikita’s family, while Bajaj’s prose amplifies various aspects of henna art in this connective work.” —Publishers Weekly

“The familiar picture book theme of persistence is given a fresh, distinct style here, as garlands of henna designs wind through the textured, vibrant art, eventually culminating in a triumphant spread that sees the smiling faces of Nikita, Nani, and Mom beaming from flowers. Nikita is a wonderfully relatable protagonist, and her frustration, fear, and pride are deftly conveyed through body posture—the hunched shoulders and locked knees as she marches off in anger will surely be recognizable to any kid or caretaker. . . . A compassionate look at the effort it sometimes takes to get the family tradition down just right.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Author

Varsha Bajaj (varshabajaj.com) is the author of the middle-grade novels Count Me In (a Global Read Aloud Selection) and Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood (shortlisted for the Cybils Award and included on the Spirit of Texas Reading Program). She also wrote the picture books The Home Builders and This Is Our Baby, Born Today (a Bank Street Best Book). She grew up in Mumbai, India, and when she came to the United States to obtain her master’s degree, her adjustment to the country was aided by her awareness of the culture through books. She lives in Houston, Texas. View titles by Varsha Bajaj
Archana Sreenivasan is a freelance illustrator based in Bangalore, India. Her illustrations have been published in magazines, children's books, book covers, and comics. She finds the natural world and people watching most inspiring and engaging. She is an alumna of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. In 2015 she attended the summer residency in illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. View titles by Archana Sreenivasan

Photos

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