For the Love of Laxmi: Everyday Desi Biases and the Imprints They Leave

Mascot Kids. Feb. 2022. 38p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781637552032.
K-Gr 4–In a picture book that insists on breaking a number of conventions, this one both charms and puzzles. Laxmi, born to South Asian immigrants, narrates from the moment of her birth until she is of college age. Her subject is the challenges and joys of having a large extended family. The first scene shows Laxmi, her brother, parents, and grandparents all sitting on the couch posing for a picture. Grandma is in a traditional sari and Grandpa is joking with his grandkids. Newborn Laxmi’s opening thought is “Meet my awkward family” and it sets the tone for the rest of the book. Speech bubbles fill readers in on what Laxmi loves and what she resists about the opinionated crew; when she is asked what her favorite subject is in school and she answers that it is math, her grandfather praises her for taking after her father, and not her mother. Laxmi challenges the statement and questions what her family members say, chafing against stereotypes and traditional roles as she grows into strong and confident young woman. A character that grows to adulthood within the confines of the picture book, unfinished conversations about hurtful comments, plus that subtitle—this book is best shared with children by someone who can explain what comments are inappropriate, what’s to shrug off as “family,” and how even mild conversation can bite. The illustrations are colorful and show normal day-to-day life in a family, from video gaming to family dinners.
VERDICT Despite drawbacks, this is a realistic, broadly funny, and sweet representation of a young girl who shows respect for elders but has a mind, and plans, of her own.

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