Children's book author, educator, and book reviewer. Formerly worked in publishing. Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, instructor in M.F.A. program.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Magazine Merit Award Honor in Nonfiction, 2003, for essay.
(Editor) Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America, Seal Press (Emeryville, CA), 2004.
Mama's Saris, illustrated by Elena Gomez, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including Writing!, Kahani, Cicada, Village Voice, Indian Express, Time Out, India Today, Weekly Reader, New York Times, and New Moon. Work included in anthology Women Who Eat: A New Generation on the Glory of Food, Seal Press, 2003.
Although she initially earned a college degree in biomedical engineering, Pooja Makhijani has since shifted the trajectory of her career to something that has been a passion since childhood: writing. A freelance writer whose fiction and articles have appeared in periodicals ranging from the New York Times and the Village Voice to Cicada and Weekly Reader, she has also edited an anthology titled Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America, and written the picture book Mama's Saris.
Mama's Saris was inspired by Makhijani's Indian heritage, as well as by memories of her own childhood. "The colors, patterns, and fabrics of my mother's saris fascinated me," she explained in an online interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith for Cynsations. "I wrote Mama's Saris after realizing that my own obsession with my mother's fancy clothes was not unique. It seemed as if each of my female friends—regardless of ethnicity or age—remembers being enthralled by her own mother's ‘grown-up clothes.’"
In Makhijani's story, a seven-year-old girl wants to wear a beautiful sari like the one her mother puts on for special occasions. Convincing her mother that she is old enough to manage the delicate fabrics, the girl ultimately gets her wish. Accompanying Makhijani's story are brightly hued paintings by Elena Gomez, along with a glossary containing Hindi words and phrases. Reviewing Mama's Saris for Booklist, Gillian Engberg noted that the "story's universal themes transcend cul- tural specifics." Margaret R. Tassia wrote in School Library Journal that Makhijani's story is "a pleasant offering about family traditions" as well as a "positive" intergenerational tale, and a Publishers Weekly contributor dubbed Mama's Saris a book in which "narrative and art pay satisfying tribute to a treasured tradition."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, April 15, 2007, Gillian Engberg, review of Mama's Saris, p. 49.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of Mama's Saris.
Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2007, review of Mama's Saris, p. 60.
School Library Journal, June, 2007, Margaret R. Tassia, review of Mama's Saris, p. 115.
Cynsations Web site,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ (October 30, 2007), Cynthia Leitich Smith, interview with Makhijani.
Pooja Makhijani Home Page,http://www.poojamakhijani.com (February 15, 2008).