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Nadia's Hands

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Saturday is Auntie Laila's wedding day and Nadia has been chosen as flower girl. The morning of the ceremony, Auntie Amina prepares Nadia's hands in the traditional way. Using henna, a natural dye, she creates intricate designs, called mehndi, on Nadia's hands. But Nadia is worried. Mehndi lasts a long time and doesn't wash off right away. When she goes to school on Monday ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published February 1st 1999 by Boyds Mills Press
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  143 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Nadia is going to be a flower girl in her aunt's wedding.
She's worried though, not only in her duties as a flower girl and getting it right, but also about the henna mendhi (designs) on her hands. Henna doesn't come off for a while, so Nadia wonders what will her classmates think? However, a beautiful wedding sweeps Nadia along for the ride and she can't wait to show off her hands to her classmates and be very proud of her Pakistani heritage.

I was thrilled that this book existed and amazingly,
In connection to a school-wide (K-12) reading project, my students have been learning about Pakistan and Afghanistan and the lives of contemporary children in Central Asia. The goal of my partner teacher and I has been to share a range of stories and ideas that begin to show the diversity of Central Asian peoples and cultures. And while the books we've read have often featured people living on the other side of the world, many of the characters’ challenges connect directly to our challenges in t ...more
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Primary
This story features the Pakistani tradition of decorating hands with mehndi, or henna, for festive occasions. The little girl in the story is chosen to be a flower girl in a family wedding, and is experiencing mehndi for the first time. With this first experience comes a variety of emotions: excitement for the wedding, anxiety over the walk down the aisle, embarrassment as her cousins laugh at her on the big day; fear of what her friends at school will think of her hands on Monday; and finally a ...more
Kaylie Lane
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a picture book with beautiful illustrations that depicts Pakistani culture. The main character is a young girl named Nadia who gets henna paintings on her hands as part of her role as the flower girl for her aunt’s wedding. Nadia’s fears about judgement from classmates at school is addressed and in the end Nadia accepts and is proud of the differences of her culture. This is an incredible book that discusses hard topics such as differences, bullying, and culture. It also provides
Margaret Boling
12/27/2017 ~~ Nadia's family wants her to have her hands painted with henna for her aunt's traditional Pakistani wedding. What will her friends at school think? Nadia must reconcile her family's traditions with the task of fitting in at school.

Consider pairing this book with chapter book: Amina's Voice by Hena Kahn.
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book nicely explains to be your own person no matter what your past is, how you look, or even what your siblings have done said. I like this story very much, and I can wait to incorporate it into my forensics theme!
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: z2018
Embracing your culture can be challenging when you live in another country. Nadia comes to understand one aspect of her heritage in such a nice way.
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
That was a good book, I enjoyed it. I just randomly listened to it, so good book! 5 stars.
Abby Frye
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Simple at first glance but full of meaning.
Hakeem Bashir
Nadia, a Pakistani-American girl, has been chosen to be the flower girl for Auntie Laila’s traditional wedding. Nadia is a very shy girl as she came from strict and traditional community so that she was a little nervous. After her family supported her and told her that she will be very pretty and she is lucky to be chosen. Nadia agreed to be the flower girl and she will wear shalwar with a matching kameez on top. She will have her hair curly, and she will walk down the corridor scattering flower ...more
Amanda Walz
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I found this to be a nice story about a little girl experiencing something for the first time. She is excited and nervous and not to happy about parts of this new experience. She's also nervous about what other's who are not part of this culture will think. She comes to be more excepting when she sees how happy her family is.
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Nadia’s Hands is a fiction story of a Pakistani-American girl, Nadia, who struggle with her mixed feelings over the mehndi (temporary designs drawn onto women’s hands with henna) on her hands (ex. “she didn’t want these hands that didn’t look like her hands”.

This text is great to use to teach the class not only about being open-minded of other students’ customs, but also to honor different cultural diversity (ex “Maybe she could show her hands during sharing time. Linda Murakami came with her g
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This talks about a young Pakistan- American girl who gets mehndi, a traditional art on woman's hands for occasions, such as being a flower in her aunts wedding. All she can think about at first is what everyone at school will think about it, until she realizes it's important and it's a part of her culture that she doesn't need to be ashamed of. She decides she'd like to share it with everyone in class.
Teri Weaver
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mid-east-jewish
Although I thought the illustrations were subpar, the text of this book was excellent. I think this story could be read to teach younger students the concepts of patience and tolerance. A Pakistani-American girl worries about what her classmates will think of her hands that have been decorated with henna for a wedding where she is the flower girl. Coming to terms that the henna represents part of her heritage, she accepts the decorations as becoming. (During the process, she must have patience b ...more
Jun 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-fiction
This story tells of young Nadia and her excitement and fear over having her hands painted with mehndi. She is excited to be the important flower girl in her aunt's wedding, yet fearful of what kids at school will say when they see her, "amber hands... that did not look like her hands."

I wish that the author had shown Nadia's interaction with her classmates and her overcoming her fear of sharing her painted hands.

I was not terribly impressed with the illustrations, and wished that they were more
I think Nadia's Hands is an interesting story about one young Pakistani girl's struggle to balance her cultural traditions and school life. I wanted to like this story but I felt that it did not do the Pakistani American family justice. The emphasis was too much on how afraid Nadia was to show her culture in school. Although this is a reality for many young immigrants I felt that it could have been done better. The story also seemed to occasionally slip and show a negative stereotype (the mean/j ...more
Monique Clem
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Nadia's Hands
By Karen English
Age group 7-10

This story of the little girl from Pakistan was very enjoyable. This story was very interesting. The little girl has to be a flower girl in her aunts wedding and she gets nervous about throwing the flowers in the right spot, walking down and not falling, and the mehndi (paste made from henna tree and applied on women's hands). She was afraid that children in school would talk about her hands. She was ultimately embarrassed of her culture. She realized
Elizabeth Lauver
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multi-cultural
Nadia’s Hands, by Karen English, is an authentic tale about a young girl that is a flower girl in her relations wedding. For the wedding the girl is told that she will be getting her hands done. Her relative completes her hands with all different markings and drawings on her hands for their faith. The girl did not want her hands done because she didn’t want to go to school with it on her hands because of what students might say or think. But she does get her hands painted and embraces that at th ...more
Nicole Holden
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ell-books
I liked this book as it features a Pakistani girl that honors her Pakistani traditions. Her Aunt is getting married and she has been chosen to be the flower girl. Her traditions call for her hands being decorated in henna. She is had mixed emotions about the henna being on her hands. She is excited to honor her tradition, and at the same time worried about what her friends at school will say. This book is a wonderful lesson for the entire class to be tolerant of other students’ customs. This boo ...more
Charles Martin
Recommended to me by the art teacher, "Nadia's Hands" was another great example of mixing English with other languages -- this time Pakistani Urdu. I found the pictures to be pretty weak, however. Furthermore, I prefer more positive examples of Muslim, Hindu, and/or Middle-Eastern women rather than being depicted as weak, victimized, or timid. The art teacher uses this book to introduce various forms of art around the woman utilizing the body. In fact, students use stencils to create their own d ...more
Feb 26, 2009 rated it liked it
I picked up this book while browsing the shelves at the Blacksburg Library. Nadia, a Pakistani-American girl, is chosen to be a flower girl in her aunt's wedding and has mixed feelings over the mehndi she will be wearing on her hands. On the one hand she is glad to make her family members so happy, but on the other she is nervous about what her friends will say at school on Monday. Impressionistic illustrations and definitions of important words make this book a fun read.
Lana Clifton
Nadia is the flower girl in her sister's traditional Pakistani wedding. Part of her cultural tradition is painting detailed designs with a natural dye called henna. Young Nadia fears what her school peers will think. Nurtured by a loving family, Nadia learns to be proud of her cultural heritage. There is a also a glossary translating select words in Urdu. This is a great book for 2nd-4th grade classrooms that honor cultural diversity.
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nadia is finally old enough to be in one of her Aunties' weddings. She is excited, but also worried what her classmates will say about the paintings on her hands. She knows that many of her friends shared many of their own cultural ideas, but it still worries her.

As the wedding comes to an end, she realizes her fear is not something to be concerned with because her hands, Nadia's Hands are beautiful and culturally significant.
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Though the protagonist seemed a bit overly preoccupied with what the kids at school would think on Monday, the rest of the story was heartwarming and nicely written. The illustrations were beautiful as well. Good book about a culture that doesn't get reported on terribly often. I wondered what Urdu was when I was reading. In fact, I had to read about it online afterward.
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
A young girl gets her hands painted in a traditional manner. She is afraid that she won't be accepted by her classmates but finds out that she is unique and cool. Good for children of different cultures to be proud of their unique cultural attributes.
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
great book on culture!! THis is a contemporary realistic fiction book! Very multicultural! great for kids to learn abotu different culture. This book is about a Pakistani wedding and Nadia is prepping for it by putting henna on her hands.
Janine Weston
Nadia's Hands by Karen English (2nd) Booklegger Spring Program
Jun 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting look into the Indian culture, however, not very moving.
Jul 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens
The storyline centered around Nadia's anxiety about school. I would have liked the author to have focused on sharing cultural meanings of a Pakistani wedding customs.
Jul 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s, fiction
A good story about a Pakistani-American girl participating in her aunt's wedding.
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Karen English is a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winner and the author of the Nikki and Deja and The Carver Chronicles series. Her novels have been praised for their accessible writing, authentic characters, and satisfying storylines. She is a former elementary school teacher and lives in Los Angeles, California.

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