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Children's Fiction Self-esteem & Self-reliance

Mehndi Boy

by (author) Zain Bandali

illustrated by Jani Balakumar

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Chapter Books, Clothing & Dress, LGBT
Recommended Age
6 to 11
Recommended Grade
1 to 6
Recommended Reading age
6 to 11
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2024
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


“A triumph . . . a story I wish I had as a child.” —Danny Ramadan, award-winning author of Salma the Syrian Chef

Now in paperback! An artistic, fashion-loving boy unlocks a new talent—and learns to stand up for it—in this chapter book perfect for fans of the Sadiq series and Meet Yasmin!

Tehzeeb drew curvy clouds, grand galaxies, squirmy squiggles, and delicate dots. He made charming checkerboards and even perfected paisleys. His practice was finally paying off!

The first time Tehzeeb tries mehndi, his passion for the art form blossoms. Soon, he’s creating designs for all his friends and family, and dreams of becoming the most in-demand mehndi artist in town. So Tez is hurt and confused when his favorite uncle tells him mehndi isn’t for boys. His art brings people joy. How could it be wrong? Tehzeeb doesn’t want to disappoint his uncle. But when a crisis before his cousin’s wedding puts his talents to the test, Tehzeeb must find the courage to be his true creative self.

Jani Balakumar’s expressive, vibrant illustrations bring Tehzeeb’s designs—and his community—to life. This charming, affirming story by debut author Zain Bandali will have you celebrating creativity, artistic expression, and being unapologetically yourself.

Readers can learn more about mehndi at home with activities at the end of the book.

About the authors

ZAIN BANDALI is an unapologetic Ismaili Muslim queer artist of Indo-Tanzanian heritage living in Ontario, Canada. He writes on themes related to mysticism, queerness, diasporas, and where they interact. His poetry has been published in multiple journals and his spoken word has graced stages across the province. He is an avid vegetable gardener but cannot always stomach the chilli peppers he grows.

Zain Bandali's profile page

JANI BALAKUMAR is a Tamil-Canadian illustrator and 2D animator that resides in Toronto, Canada. She has a bachelor’s in animation from Sheridan College where she honed her craft. Her works often have a bold palette and mixed textural elements to make the work pop off the page.

Jani Balakumar's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“A delightful story about finding inspiration in unexpected places, the virtue of practice, and the beauty in so-called imperfection. Tez's tenacity is admirable and, ultimately, transformative. The world needs more ‘mehndi boys’!”

Vivek Shraya, author of The Boy & the Bindi and God Loves Hair

“A triumph . . . navigates topics such as socially constructed gender roles and the evolution of culture and tradition, while also showcasing a beautiful form of art and a joyful childhood experience.” —Danny Ramadan, author of Salma the Syrian Chef and Salma Makes a Home

Danny Ramadan, author of Salma the Syrian Chef and Salma Makes a Home

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