The Magic Braid


32 pages
ISBN 0-920813-25-9
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Farida Zaman
Reviewed by Kelly L. Green

Kelly L. Green is editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual’s
Children’s Literature edition.


Amrita can hardly hold still for her mother to braid her long hair every
day. Mom, on the other hand, says Amrita’s hair is too long, and it
takes forever to braid. “What does forever mean?” asks Amrita. One
Saturday, Mom gives her a little push to stretch out her hair (which is
looking particularly magical that day), and Amrita finds herself walking
to the ocean, where she hitches a ride on a talking whale, then lands at
the edge of the desert that a friendly camel helps her to cross.
Finally, a small cloud lifts her over the mountains so that she can
visit her Nana and Nani in India for the very first time. Suddenly she
is snapped back to her mother, who asks why Amrita always giggles when
she braids her hair. “I don’t know why I giggle,” says Amrita,
“but I know the meaning of forever.”

This little story captures the longing of a little girl to visit the
exotic home of the grandparents she has never met. However, a number of
problems plague the book’s promise. Amrita’s leap from reality to
fantasy does not carry the reader smoothly with her, and the transition
back to mother’s knee is just as jarring. The story bogs down in the
middle, when Amrita’s journey over the ocean, through the desert, and
beyond the mountains should be quite exciting, but instead is rather
tedious. The book’s language is uninteresting and pedestrian.
Zaman’s colorful illustrations, reminiscent of South Asian folk art,
are the best feature of this book, which is, nevertheless, not a
first-choice purchase.


Singh, Rina., “The Magic Braid,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,