Mehndi Boy

By (author): Zain Bandali

Illustrated by: Jani Balakumar

“Delightful . . . the world needs more ‘mehndi boys!’” —Vivek Shraya, author of The Boy & the Bindi and God Loves Hair

“I was totally charmed by it.” —Ali Sethi, musician and author

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!

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.

“A triumph.” —Danny Ramadan, author of Salma the Syrian Chef and the Salma series


Zain Bandali

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.


Jani Balakumar

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.


“ltpgtBandali gently and compassionately offers readers a chance to see how to be true to yourself as they follow Tez on his journeyltpgt”
The Globe and Mail 092823

“ltpgtA testament to the power of art to challenge the rigidities of bias and triumph over discrimination Bandali pays homage to the rich panoply of IndoAfrican culture and shows that like art cultural traditions are vibrant and evermovingltpgtltpgtltbrgtltpgt”
Quill amp Quire starred review 1223

“ltpgtA fastpaced chapter book replete with vibrant illustrations This would be a lovely readaloud taking readers on an emotional journey along with Tehzeebltpgt”
Booklist 092823


  • Silver Birch Express Award OLA 2023, Nominated
  • New York Public Library Best Book for Kids 2023, Joint winner
  • Best Bets OLA 2023, Commended
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    108 Pages
    8.00in * 6.50in * .50in


    January 09, 2024


    Annick Press



    Book Subjects:

    JUVENILE FICTION / Religious / Muslim

    Featured In:

    Pride Reads 2024



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