13 Stories About Ayana

Holiday House. Nov. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823448296.
PreS-Gr 1–Fans of 13 Stories About Harris will be delighted by Schwartz’s return, with another set of short stories following the everyday adventures of a city-dwelling child. This time, Harris’s friend Ayana is the star of the show. Lively vignettes form a warm and wonderful portrait of Black joy as Ayana’s parents encourage discovery, responsibility, and community through activities, such as riding a bus, just to see what’s at the end of the line, bringing home a pet hamster, and participating in their neighborhood block party. There is a comfortable rhythm to the narrative and a clear connection between many of the stories, rewarding readers who pay close attention. The passage of time is marked by Ayana and her family repeatedly tending their community garden where Ayana plants zucchini seeds and learns how they grow. Ayana’s 13 stories reach a satisfying conclusion when her family hosts Harris’s family for a lovely zucchini-based dinner party, affirming the sweet and steady friendship from the first book.
VERDICT The very definition of a cozy picture book and a first purchase; with charmingly brief prose and illustrations that interact playfully with the text, Ayana’s 13 stories add up to a delightful experience for readers of all ages.

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