Seven Special Somethings: A Nowruz Story

Dial. Feb. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593108260.
PreS-Gr 3–When a mishap wrecks the sofreh haft-seen, seven symbolic items whose names start with the 15th letter in the Persian alphabet, Kian must find items to replace them in time for his grandparents’ Nowruz visit. Kian and his family are preparing to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year marking the start of spring. Maman explains the symbolism behind the seven (haft) items starting with the Farsi letter “seen” on the sofreh (table-setting) haft-seen. Items like sumac for sunshine, seer (garlic) for health, and serkeh (vinegar) for patience represent what the family hopes will bring them happiness in the new year. But trying to add Sonny, the family cat, to the haft-seen leads to its ruin. Faidhi’s illustrations add dynamic color and textural and cultural richness to the narrative; the images feel timeless and convey a feeling of holiday nostalgia. Khorram’s end note mentions other items of renewal frequently placed on a haft-seen that are depicted on the end papers. Though Kian’s khanumjan (a respectful term for grandmother) wears a headscarf, not uncommon among older Persian women, there are no specific indicators that the family is Muslim (and in fact, Nowruz has Zoroastrian origins), so Persian readers of varying backgrounds religious or otherwise will be able to see themselves in the narrative.
VERDICT A beautiful celebration of Nowruz with familial warmth that embraces child agency, problem-solving, and creativity. A recommended purchase for every library.

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