Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala

Welcome to the new site! Today I’ve got a charming tale about the sharing of culture between a grandparent and grandchild. I wish this book had been around when I was a child growing up in rural Pennsylvania. While I didn’t hide my culture, I wasn’t always forthcoming in school either. A detail that warms my heart is that I am Gujarati, same as the family in this book, and my Ba lived with us for a while when I was a kid too. I am so grateful for the diversification of children’s books in the United States.

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Title: Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala
Author/Illustrator: Meenal Patel
Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press, 2019
Book Type: Multicultural, Family
Ages: 4-8

Babi Ba tells her India is the smell of roasted cumin and the masala at the spice market that tickles your nose.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Priya lives in the United States and her family is from India. She feels the magic of the place her family comes from through her Babi Ba’s colorful descriptions of India–from the warm smell of spices to the swish-swish sound of a rustling sari. Together, Priya and Babi Ba make their heritage live on through the traditions that they infuse into their everyday lives.

Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala is a celebration of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, the threads that connect each of us to our heritage, and the power of sharing our traditions with others.


Why I Like This Book:

A beautiful, poignant story for any child that straddles two cultures or knows of a child that does.

Priya lives in a multi-generational home in the United States. She enjoys making rotli with her Ba everyday after school. During this special bonding time of grandmother and granddaughter, Ba tells Priya stories of India. From the “roasted cumin and the masala … that tickles your nose” to the “taste of a steaming cup of cha” and “marigolds strung up on the storefronts and the doorways of homes.” After hearing these wonderful memories, Priya asks her Ba if she misses India. This is the where the beauty shines through of the story and helps to differentiate itself from the many other immigrant Indian stories; her Ba explains that India is here in their home, from the marigolds in their garden to the smell of roasted cumin coming from the kitchen. It is the carrying of culture within you. When winter comes and there is snow on the garden instead of marigolds, Priya worries Ba will miss India more. So she shares her Indian stories with her classmates and recruits them to help her with a project to cheer-up Ba. The story ends on a lovely note about how sharing your culture is the best way to carry it with you.

There is so much to treasure in this book from the concern Priya shows for her Ba, to the theme of carrying culture in your heart, to the Gujarati vocabulary, and the easy-to-read text. Notice how Ms. Patel seamlessly shifts from the warm oranges-pinks for the India scenes to the cool blue-greens for the American ones. Beautifully done.

Some other special extras in this book are the colorful endpapers, a poem at the beginning and the end of the book each representing a different home, and backmatter containing additional information on the cultural significance of marigolds, glossary with art, and an author’s note.

Find Priya Dreams of Marigold & Masala at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1643439553
ISBN-13: 978-1643439556

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the author. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

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