click the book cover for a downloadable version

Mehndi Boy

Written by Zain Bandali
Illustrated by Jani Balakumar
Published by Annick Press

Released March 8th 


Word Search — .doc | .pdf
& Answers — .pdf
Crossword Puzzle — .doc | .pdf  & Answers — .doc | .pdf
Fill in the blanks — .doc | .pdf & Answers —.doc | .pdf
Art Activity — .doc | .pdf


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 favourite 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.


ZAIN BANDALI was born in Canada to parents from Tanzania. For four generations, his family lived in East Africa, with roots tracing to the Kutch and Gujarat regions of India. Zain has never felt like he had a homeland – it feels like all these places and none of these places at once. For him, home is simply where memories are made with loved ones. Zain loves writing poetry, collecting shawls, taking bubble baths, and hanging out in nature. Zain loves growing vegetables but cannot always stomach the hot chili peppers he grows.



Instagram: @zenbanda


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.


Instagram: @artbyjanibee

Twitter/X: @Jani_balakumar


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