Bright Light Books – Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing

Illustrated by Michelle Pereira

Reshma loves dinnertime with her family. Her family eat with their hands – not just finger food type–eating, but hands-on squishy eating. When she’s invited to stay for dinner at her friends’ places, she finds out that they all eat in different ways. Some go ting ting with their cutlery, and others go click clack with their chopsticks. So what will her friends say when they see her family eat with their hands?

Themes: Diversity & Inclusion, Acceptance, Friendship.

WINNER! 2024 NSW Multicultural Award, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

2024 Children’s Book Council of Australia, Book of the Year Award – NOTABLE book.

Longlisted in the 2024 inaugral DANZ – The Diversity in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand Children’s Book Award – Children’s Book Award.  Read more here


Multicultural NSW Award  

2024 Winner

Judges’ comments

Stay for Dinner is an exuberant, captivating celebration of family and friends and the fabulous feasts between them. Reshma loves ‘squishing splashy curry through layers of rice’ with her hands during dinnertime with her loving family. But Reshma is self-conscious about what her friends would think of her family eating with their hands, licking food off their fingers and burping their appreciation at the table.

Scrumptious cuisines spill over the pages with Michelle Pereira’s delightful illustrations that evoke everyday suburban multi-culture in all its gloriously familiar details: playing sports with friends after school, staying back late and gathering around dinner tables laden with various cuisines and culinary rituals. What to eat? How to eat it? What will my friends think of what and how I eat?!

There are so many ways Stay for Dinner can be used to spark conversations in families, classrooms, and over readers’ own dinner tables. Conversations about being adventurous with food, about trusting friends and embracing ourselves and each other without judgment, about the warmth, generosity, delightful quirks and chaos of multi-generational families, and about the moments to treasure between and among family and friends.

And while food and multiculturalism have long been fetishised as the domain of the ‘exotic’ and ‘other’, Stay for Dinner stands out as a work that masterfully avoids any such tropes. Instead, Sandhya Parappukkaran and Michelle Pereira present a gorgeous food and cultural safari for children that is as much about appreciating and embracing the diverse ways families share a meal together, as it is a reminder that differences are mutually enriching when they are encountered without hierarchy or judgment but rather acceptance and respect. The result is a story that will have you grinning from the first page and ravenous by the last!


Books+Publishing Review


“If ever Australian publishers needed inspiration to produce more diverse picture books written by own voices authors, Sandhya Parappukkaran’s Stay for Dinner is a perfect example. It is an entertaining story laden with representations of Kerala Indian, Italian, Asian and Australian cultures. “

Read full review here.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Meyrnah Khodr is a Lebanese-Australian writer and educator from Bankstown. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.

“Stay for Dinner is a requirement on every bookshelf as a resource that teaches vital social skills and cultural appreciation—it’s a salve for everyday anxieties any child may feel in regards to fitting in with their peers. This picture book is a wonderful revelation of the true diversity evident within Australia.” 



A defining moment of my picture book life!

Stay For Dinner was read on Play School by journalist, TV presenter and author – Indira Naidoo. An icon of my childhood, as one of the only women of South Indian descent on Australian television at the time. A proud and epic moment!!

Catch the reading on iView here


Some incredible artwork from Stay For Dinner reading & craft time!

Book Reviews:

YOUR KIDS’ NEXT READ – MEGAN DALEY “A gorgeous celebration of food and culture.” Read full review here

STORYLINKS MIA MACROSSAN “This is the third time these two have teamed up and it is always a wining combination. Their latest collaboration has produced Stay for Dinner, a joyous, inclusive and exuberant celebration of the many different foods that people eat and the ways it is consumed. A gorgeously produced book recommended to schools as a valuable resource for any study on food, families and other cultures.” Read full review here

READING OPENS DOORS – ELISE ELLERMAN “Their stunning books empower, include and validate the way children see themselves and are greatly influenced by Sandhya’s Kerala Indian heritage.  This book celebrates difference and highlights that we are all richer when we learn about diverse ways of being; models prosocial behaviour and empowers readers to expand their thinking. ” Read full review here

To see more of this gorgeous craft activity, head over to Wildflowers and Reading hours Instagram page here