Nina Soni, Perfect Hostess

Peachtree. (Nina Soni). Apr. 2023. 192p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781682635018.
Gr 2-4–Seth continues her popular series of chapter books featuring nine-year-old Nina Soni, an Indian American girl who is a list-maker and a math problem-solver. While previous titles focused on Nina’s efforts to fix everyday problems, this one expands on Indian cultural traditions that were mentioned in earlier titles. This time, Nina and her family excitedly welcome Grandmother Dadi and young cousin Montu who have come from India for their first trip to America. Indian foods, traditional dances, words, and education are explained within the context of the Soni family showing their guests life in America. Vowing to be a perfect hostess, Nina uses her detailed lists and math skills to analyze and solve problems, methods to which young STEAM enthusiasts might relate. Young readers’ attention will more likely be drawn to the illustrated lists and math problems than to Kocsmiersky’s pleasant drawings. The drawings are illustrations of single scenes within each chapter but do not advance the plot. The storyline itself is as easy to follow, with vocabulary boxes included that feature both English and Indian terms. Each box contains a reprint of a vocabulary word followed by its definition.
VERDICT The scarcity of early chapter books that show both Indian and American cultural traditions, the integration of two cultures, and definitions of both countries’ words, make this book a recommended purchase for middle grade reading collections.

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