Leila in Saffron

Image of Leila in Saffron
Release Date: 
June 18, 2019
Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Reviewed by: 

“an important book for any home or library collection.”

Leila, a girl whose family is from Pakistan, loves going to her grandma's house every Friday for family dinner. This cozy multigenerational story shows how one girl connects to her heritage and figures out how to incorporate the colors, smells, and tastes of it all into her growing sense of self.

The writing is as colorful as the illustrations. Describing the clothes in Grandma's old leather trunk, Guidroz writes: “Bundles of silk scarves shimmer before my eyes! I see the color of lentils, bright and orange; pomegranates, juicy and rosy; cucumber skin, dark and green; and threads of saffron, gold and copper.”

Guidroz also lovingly describes Leila, from her “skinny arms and knobby knees,” and her family, all enjoying the feast of chicken curry and warm chapattis. Mirtalpova's brightly-colored art perfectly complements the text, presenting a warm home with its distinctive traditions. Leila feels keenly her place in her family as she puts on the saffron scarf her grandmother offers her: “I slowly sparkle and shine. Each and every part of me comes together to make me who I am.”

For readers unfamiliar with Pakistani culture, a glossary explains some phrases and how to pronounce them. For them, this book offers a window into a fascinating new world. For those who know the culture well, seeing it beautifully presented in this picture book will provide a welcome mirror, making this an important book for any home or library collection.