Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister?

Candlewick. Sept. 2021. 112p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781536214826.
Gr 1-3–The tapestry of Sona’s life is woven with the people of her vibrant, bustling multigenerational Indian family: her parents, Amma and Appa; her grandparents Thatha, Paatti, and the President; and her stuffed elephant, who is called, much to his chagrin, Elephant. Sona’s life is about to change as her parents prepare to welcome a baby. And Sona, like many first-time older siblings, is feeling a variety of emotions. Will she have to leave her home and live with her maternal grandmother, the President, as Amma awaits the new baby? Will Sona be able to share her parents’ love and attention with the baby? Can she come up with the perfect name for her new sibling’s naming ceremony? The emotional journey of this soon-to-be big sister unfolds delicately, with the perfect balance of gravitas and humor. Young readers will be quickly absorbed in the character-driven plot and description of Hindu baby-welcoming ceremonies and customs. In a particularly touching scene, Amma assuages Sona’s worries of being forgotten by comparing the family’s love for Sona and her future sibling to the sky making space for the birth of a star. Khatun’s linear illustrative style pairs well with the text, giving life to the lush foliage of India and the charming characters of Sona’s family.
VERDICT This chapter book’s unique take on the familiar theme of welcoming a new baby is elevated by Soundar’s exceptional characterization and Khatun’s appealing art. A recommended purchase for school and public library collections.

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