Chowdhury, Radhiah. The Katha Chest. Salaam Reads, 2022. 978-1-665-90390-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.
The Katha Chest follows a young girl named Asiya who loves to visit her Nanu’s house because she gets a chance to go through the katha chest. Each quilt tells a story, and Asiya loves learning about her family in this way. The illustrations are beautifully done, and when Asiya is looking at each quilt there is a spread of pages that just show the woman from the family who is attached to each quilt. On those pages, the illustrations demonstrate and show more about each woman from the family without having any words to describe them. At the end of the book, there are both author and illustrator notes delving more into the katha chest and what that means to each of them.
THOUGHTS: This book is a beautifully done story about the katha chest, as well as what each woman in Asiya’s family means to her. A great story for a read aloud that will cause readers to want to know more about this skill of making the katha quilts.
Picture Book Mary McEndree, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy
Tags: Quilts, family, grandmothers, mothers, authors, Bangladesh, saris.
Weatherford, Carole Boston. Dreams for a Daughter. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021. Unpaged. 978-1-5344-5198-8. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.
In this lovely picture book, a Black mother voices her hopes and dreams for her newborn daughter. Speaking in first person, the unnamed narrator thinks about her child’s future and tells her how she will care for her in every stage of her life. As a parent, she will not only support her with physical challenges, like taking her first steps or riding a bicycle, but will also provide guidance on dealing with adversity, speaking up for herself, and choosing her own future. On the final pages, the mother reminds her daughter that she will always watch out for her, even from afar when she grows into an adult, “trusting God to keep Her eyes on you.” Weatherford has created a very moving tale of a mother’s love for her child. Brian Pinkney’s expressionist illustrations help convey the emotions this woman feels as she embraces her infant, anticipating her future and promising to “show her all that she can.” Pinkney draws a swirl around the pair on each bold and colorful drawing, which perfectly depicts the mother’s all-encompassing love.
THOUGHTS: This touching story is perfect for mothers with young daughters and would be a wonderful gift for a new mother. It could also be read aloud to a group of young children to encourage them to face challenges and go forward confidently into their futures.
Picture Book Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member
Clark, Yvette. Glitter Gets Everywhere. Harper, 2021. 978-0-063-03448-8. 308 p. $15.15. Grades 5-8.
Kitty has barely had time to process her mother’s illness and death from cancer. Her dad can’t possibly be serious about taking her and her older sister, Imogen, from their home in London to New York City for four months. Everything that reminds her of her mum is in London. If they leave, will she be leaving her mother’s memory also? And as if it isn’t already awkward being the new kid with the funny accent, how is she supposed to explain to the PTA moms that her own mum will not be joining them on the committee for the Halloween dance? New York City seems destined to be a disaster, but just because so much is new doesn’t mean Kitty has to say goodbye to the old. Maybe some distance is just what Kitty needs to start the healing process.
THOUGHTS: It can hit a school hard when a student loses a parent, and unfortunately, it happens all too often. Glitter Gets Everywhere is an excellent book to have on your shelves for that student who needs to read about grief in a way that does not tie it up in a neat bow, but rather shows that it is messy, ongoing, and devastating, and like glitter thrown into the air, reminders are everywhere. But like Kitty, they too can find a way to make their new reality the new normal.
Realistic Fiction Melissa Johnston, North Allegheny SD
Cabrera, Cozbi A. Me & Mama. Denene Millner Books, 2020. $17.99. 978-1-534-45421-7. 32 p. Grades PreK-1.
A young girl walks readers through an average day spent with her loving Mama. On the end paper, a series of mother/daughter still-life objects are presented: a large wooden spoon alongside a smaller version; a red bicycle and a tricycle; a knit winter cap next to one with fuzzy ears and pigtails. Through this series of objects, the reader gets a glimpse of the young girl’s admiration for her mother as she points out their similarities and differences in a distinctly wondrous and childlike way. Over breakfast she shares how Mama’s dainty tea cup “goes clink, clink, clink with a spoon” while her red sippy cup “goes duh, duh” yet together they sing like a chorus for their morning ritual. Later, she tells readers that Mama’s red rain boots are “bigger than my yellow ones” following up with an explanation that their dog, Max,“doesn’t wear boots.” After a day of errands and rain puddles, Mama reads a story and tucks in the girl and her brother, Luca. Although her brother seems to fall asleep immediately, the young narrator has just enough time to reflect on the day and familial love as she too drifts off. Stunning full-bleed acrylic illustrations feature detailed portraits of Mama, Luca, and the young girl with their beautiful varying shades of rich Brown skin and dark hair worn in a variety of styles throughout the day.
THOUGHTS: This lovely picture book immortalizes the precious mundane moments that make up a relationship between mother and daughter. Papa and brother Luca are also mentioned throughout, creating a snapshot day in the life of one happy family.
Picture Book Jackie Fulton, Mt. Lebanon SD