Zuri Ray and the Backyard Bash

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062918048.
PreS-Gr 2–Zuri’s parents agree to her idea for an end-of-summer party, but when she hears their plans (for ‘80s music and olive Jell-O) she knows she has to take over. She rallies her sister, Remi, their dog, Sherlock Hound, and a diverse group of friends from school, church, and swim class to plan a perfect party, including food, decorations, and entertainment. The planning and the party itself go well at first, but then catastrophe strikes (squirrel, dog chase). Zuri wants everyone to go home, but her parents’ comfort and good advice (“It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be fun” and “Sometimes things don’t go as planned”) help her recover and carry on. Zuri’s mom is dark-skinned with curly black hair, and her dad is white, with blondish-brown hair. Zuri Ray (Zuri Ray Tries Ballet) shares an inclusive vibe and problem-solving attitude with Saadia Faruqi’s early reader series, “Meet Yasmin.” The vibrant, animated illustrations are great fun, especially the perspective of the dog chase, with a dotted line enabling readers to follow the action.
VERDICT An excellent story of initiative, planning, and what to do when plans go awry; highly recommended.

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