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Children's Fiction Cooking & Food


by (author) Priti Birla Maheshwari

illustrated by Ashley Barron

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Cooking & Food, Asia, Senses & Sensation, Diversity & Multicultural
Recommended Age
3 to 7
Recommended Grade
2 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it


A sensory celebration of family, food, and culture


When their train makes a 10-minute stop at the station in Jaipur, a young girl and her mother hurry to get in line for a cup of chai. While the girl waits for her mug of milky spiced tea, readers are treated to the sights, sounds, and smells of the Chaiwala’s cart. The aroma of ginger, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon sticks swirls in the air. Tea leaves rustle, milk bubbles, and the hot drink is poured back and forth until—clink!—the cups are filled and placed on the stand. With a biscuit and a rusk added to their order, it’s time to find a spot to sit and enjoy!


Inspired by the author’s childhood visits to India, Chaiwala! celebrates the pleasures of taking time for food, family, and tradition—even for a brief moment. Illustrated in lively cut-paper collages and filled with scrumptious sensory details, this book is just like a cup of chai—warm, comforting, and good to the last drop.

About the authors

PRITI BIRLA MAHESHWARI was born in New Delhi, India. She moved to Canada when she was six years old and has also lived in the United States. A teacher for more than 20 years, Priti lives with her husband and daughter in Cambridge, Ontario. Priti savors the tender moments and conversation that happen when people connect over a cup of chai. Chaiwala! is her first picture book.


Priti Birla Maheshwari's profile page

Ashley Barron moved to Toronto upon graduating from OCAD’s illustration program in 2007. She lives and works as an illustrator from her studio near Kensington market. She uses paper collage to illustrate just about everything for magazines, advertising, and animation. Over the past two years, Ashley illustrated the four Math in Nature books for Owlkids. She is an avid gardener and lover of flora and fauna, the details of which can be found in her art.

Ashley Barron's profile page


  • Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens
  • Commended, A Best Children's Book of the Year
  • Commended, South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
  • Commended, A Bookstagang Best Picture Book of 2021
  • Commended, A Toronto Public Library First and Best List selection
  • Commended, A Loan Stars Jr. Top 10 Pick for September/October
  • Commended, A CBC Best Canadian Picture Book of 2021

Editorial Reviews

"Particularly fun to read out loud ... Sweetly captures a slice of Indian life."

Kirkus Reviews

"Priti Birla Maheshwari’s vibrant text will have readers dreaming of a delicious cup of chai ... Ashley Barron’s illustrations are equally as inspiring as the text."

Storytime with Stephanie

"The simple joy of indulging in a delicious treat is captured exquisitely ... Provides a jubilant, affirming mirror for children who already know the comforting warmth of a cup of chai, and a welcoming window for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure. A wonderful choice for story time and a first purchase for all collections."

School Library Journal - STARRED REVIEW

"A heartwarming little tale about one of the simplest things that brings people together ... A delightful read, one rich for all your senses."

Canadian Review of Materials

"Small moments of stillness, connection, and gratitude are a recipe for happiness in Chaiwala!, a sumptuous debut picture book ... A sensory experience to be savoured."

Quill & Quire

"A sensory celebration."

CanLit for Little Canadians

"Beautiful cut-paper collage illustrations swirl and twirl like the steam from a cup of chai, adding crisp and colorful details ... The recipe is here integrated into the story itself."


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