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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
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2023
    List Price

Classroom Resources

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’s vibrant cut-paper collage illustrations appear in more than twelve picture books, including Chaiwala! by Priti Maheshwari, My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf (winner of the Schneider Family Book Award), City Baby by Laurie Elmquist (a Bank Street Best Book of the Year) and Pretty Tricky by Etta Kaner (a Kirkus Best Picture Book and an Outstanding Science Trade Book). Ashley lives with her partner and three cats in Toronto, Ontario.

Ashley Barron's profile page


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

Editorial Reviews

"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

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

Kirkus Reviews

"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 sensory celebration."

CanLit for Little Canadians

"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

"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

"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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