Picture Book Review: Hot Hot Roti for Dada-Ji

Dada JiHot Hot Roti for Dada-Ji written by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min

From Goodreads: Annel’s grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother’s incense and his grandfather, Dada-Ji, tells the world’s best stories. This title features recipes which have useful pictures and easy-to-follow instructions.

My school is getting to be a lot more diverse, which is a great thing, but our collection (as I’ve said before) needs some help reflecting that. Many of our students of color are of Indian descent and our collection is woefully lacking in books that reflect that culture or those kids. WOEFULLY. Thus far I have found them to be hard to come by, at least ones that show Indian Americans.

Hot, Hot Roti is one I came across and immediately bought. It’s such an funny story with Aneel reminiscing about the stories his grandfather shares with him of his grandfather’s youth and Aneel basically trying to help his grandfather get his mojo back.

What I loved most about the book, besides it being a funny uplifting story, is the relationship between Aneel and his grandfather. He talks a lot about how much he admires him and enjoys the stories he shares. He also talks about his grandmother and how much he loves her too, but it’s clear there is a special connection between grandfather and grandson. There is a sweet comparison between Aneel and the grandfather and it becomes apparent that Aneel is a lot like his grandfather.

Best of all Annel does the cooking. He makes the roti. Without help. Hooray for kids cooking and especially the image of boys cooking! The only thing I would give a caveat about is being sure to have other books that show Indian American families that don’t wear traditional clothes and cook Indian foods. Many families do, but we don’t want to fall into stereotypes. When Aneel goes to make the roti the book shows his other family members (parents and sister) and they are doing very typical American things, so I think (correct me if I am off the mark here) the book does a good job of balancing a family rooted in Indian culture without focusing solely on that culture. An excellent picture book to add to any library collection. Be sure to put it out to celebrate Grandparents’ Day.