How to Wear a Sari

by Darshana Khiani (Author) Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Sparkling with voice and charm, this picture book about a fashionable kid out to prove she's not as small as everyone thinks is perfect for kids eager to grow up, and for those who love to play dress-up.

Being a little kid isn't always fun and games. Sometimes, it's downright annoying.

When a little girl tires of being treated like she's TOO little, she sets out to prove to her family that she can do ANYTHING she puts her mind to . . .

. . . including putting on a colorful, twinkly, silky sari. Sure, they're long and unwieldy--but that only means her family will be even more impressed when she puts it on all by herself.

Naturally, there are some hiccups along the way, but she discovers that she's not the only one in her family who has set out with something to prove, with hilariously chaotic results. That's what photo albums are for!

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Publishers Weekly

Simple, multi-patterned line art drawings in a lively color palette by Lew-Vriethoff pilot young readers through Khiani's winning guide to sari-wearing. Using the second-person perspective, the book opens with a line that will likely resonate with any reader: "Are you tired of being treated like a little kid?" The solution, the narrator opines, is to don a "colorful, twinkly, silky sari." A light brown-skinned child with two dark pigtails visualizes each step of the process, from selecting a sari to properly pleating, draping, and accessorizing. A comedic late-act surprise concludes the how-to. Some lines feel slightly unrelatable ("They'll stop to take photos, consult you for tips, and maybe even give you a contract"), but this picture book offers an enjoyable behind-the-scenes look at a South Asian staple. Ages 4-8. (June)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Fumbling with knitting needles, spilling garbage from a torn trash bag-an unnamed, aggravated young girl with brown skin and brown hair is feeling too small and inadequate for grown-up tasks. She wants to prove her maturity to her family. Inspiration strikes, although a bit out of the blue. Why not arrive at her family's party wearing one of her mother's elegant saris? After choosing the perfect green and yellow sari-not too plain, not too fancy, with the right amount of sparkle-the persistent young narrator demonstrates the step-by-step process of donning a sari. Readers learn that a blouse and petticoat are worn underneath and how to correctly tuck, wrap, and pleat the sari. The look is polished with a stylish brooch, jewelry, and sparkly sandals. Now the challenge will be to walk in those high-heeled sandals to show off her sophisticated outfit at her family gathering. Unsteady and wobbly, the young girl trips, sending food flying across a multigenerational family. On the bright side, the girl can now contribute a hilarious moment to the family's mishap hall of fame. Khiani's lighthearted, debut picture book is insightful for young readers unfamiliar with saris, relatable for accustomed readers, and despite feeling choppy and underwhelming in the conclusion, will entertain children. Lew-Vriethoff's illustrations are lively and fluid, appropriately matching the flowing movement of saris. VERDICT A welcomed, playful addition to a small selection of picture books available on this traditional attire.

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Simple, multi-patterned line art drawings in a lively color palette by Lew-Vriethoff pilot young readers through Khiani's winning guide to enjoyable behind-the-scenes look at a South Asian staple."—Publishers Weekly
Darshana Khiani
Darshana Khiani was born in Kenya and immigrated to the United States when she was one. She is an author, engineer, and advocate for South Asian children's literature. She is infinitely curious about the world and enjoys sharing her findings with young readers. If she can make a child laugh, even better. She is the author of How to Wear a Sari. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and a furry pup.

You can visit her online at or follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok @DarshanaKhiani.

Laura Freeman is the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, for which she won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and NAACP Image Award. She received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts and has illustrated over thirty children's books, including Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice and The Faith of Elijah Cummings: The North Star of Equal Justice. In addition to illustrations in books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards. She lives with her family in Atlanta.

You can visit her online at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
June 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV048000 - Juvenile Fiction | Clothing & Dress
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
JUV074000 - Juvenile Fiction | Diversity & Multicultural
Library of Congress categories
Family life
East Indian Americans
Youngest child
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 06/01/21

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