A lovely cumulative story that will work fabulously for read-aloud! We loved learning new Hindi words with the story! The illustrator Nayantara Surendranath brings in the colors of Rajasthan from colorful bandhinis in yellows, pinks, and blues.--Indian Moms Connect This is an excellent multicultural book with a message of upcycling and creativity that will inspire young readers to think twice before throwing something away.--Children's Book and Media Review The bright, fully saturated illustrations, in jewel-like tones with heavy black outlines, are amusingly warmhearted. An endnote explains the "philosophy behind the practice of upcycling," a strategy used for both utilitarian and creative purposes.--Melinda Greenblatt, freelance book reviewer "The Clever Tailor makes use of sweet, smiling illustrations that draw our attention to the warmth at the heart of the story... a charming and heartfelt story, delivered in well-chosen words and lovely pictures."--GoodBooks The illustrations are bold and colorful and have a real movement to them which really gives the feeling of this single piece of fabric flowing through the family and creating a connection. Also, the back of the book explains some of the Indian terms and also a little information about how the people of India like to repurpose and pass on items to other generations (for example, a vintage sari becomes baby clothes for a grandchild).--Youth Services Book Review "Surendranath's vibrant illustrations burst with life and color, and such details as the school where Rupa Ram's wife teaches add welcome dimension to the story's characters"--Kirkus Reviews The story is: despite universal praise for his work, the tailor Rupa Ram never had enough money to buy the "best cloth available and stitch something special" for his own family. That changed when he was gifted a new saafa, a long cloth folded into a turban. After he had worn out the turban, Rupa Ram found enough in the cloth to make other items of clothing for his wife, son and daughter. 3 things: 1. Attention grabber Most traditional folktales, be they European or from other cultures, typically originate as oral storytelling, so they had to very quickly capture the attention of listeners. The Clever Tailor does the same in print-it jumps right in, with the central point of contention or motivation presented very early in the second page spread and the forward story starting directly after. This is great if you want to grab a four-year-old's attention, and also gives the author a lot more book space to develop the story. This structuring shows a level of skill and proficiency on the part of the author and/or editor. This is further seen in the repetition of concepts and phrases, which is great for young readers. 2. Message Also typical of folktales is that the story is not so much character-driven as it is moral/message-driven. (BTW - Rupa Ram is the only person named in the whole story.) The surface-level message we can easily pass on to the contemporary young reader is one of recycling - Rupa Ram doesn't just throw out the whole cloth after he had worn it out as a turban but instead made use of the good bits for all his family. BUT we're not told what he did with the worn out parts of the cloth. That would have definitely strengthened the story's recycling message. "Real" life beyond the book?: Of course, if you want to go beyond the surface, the story also allows room for socioeconomic commentary. India is the world's leading cotton producer and its textile industry is the country's second largest employer after agriculture, providing work for around 60 million people. But, like Rupa Ram, most of those employed "had stitched clothes for thousands of people, but not once for [their] own family". For all the visual luxury giving life to the story, the bottom line is that a poor family like Rupa Ram's is not atypical. 3. Illustration What made me immediately grab this book was its illustration, straight from the cover. A lot of kids will stop to look around the pages at the details of the images, and this book has those in spades. Nayantara Surendranath's vibrant illustrations really build on the text and is a great introducer to scenes of Rupa Ram's family and local community. She's drawn in so much culture-specific visuals and motifs that you could create many new stories from the images themselves. It's a visual treat for sure.--Children's Picture Book Review
About the Author
Srividhya Venkat hopped, skipped and jumped careers to find the one she's most passionate about - writing and storytelling for children. She often wishes that houses were made with books, not bricks. Srividhya won the Peek-a-Book Children's Choice Award for The Clever Tailor. Nayantara Surendranath is a visual artist, illustrator, and animator. She graduated from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology with a diploma in Animation and Visual Effects. She primarily works with dry pastels, charcoals, inks, and watercolour pencils. She also teaches art to children.