Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister by Chita Soundar, illustrated by Jen Khatun

Publication Date: 3 September 2020

The Blurb

Being a big sister to a new baby brings big responsibilities.

Sona Sharma’s house is full of people who joke often and argue sometimes. Relatives come unannounced, the phone rings frequently and friends drop in all the time. Then one day Amma tells Sona she is going to have a baby. Is that good? Sona isn’t sure – she has always enjoyed being an only child – and straight away she has a word with her best friend, Elephant. When Sona learns that there will be a baby naming ceremony, she is determined to find the perfect name for her new brother or sister. Because although she realizes that her life is about to change, and while she’s having some difficulty in coming to terms with having to share everything with the new baby – including Amma and Appa, her grandparents and her home – Sona Sharma wants to be the very best big sister she can be.

The Review

Set in Chennai, the hazy heat and heady scents of hibiscus, jasmine and curry leaf plants, drift from the pages as we follow Sona and her family as they prepare for a new arrival in the family.

Chitra captures the hopes and fears of her adorably cheeky new character as Sona faces the arrival of a new sibling, and with the help of Elephant, we are able to hear her innermost thoughts. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the traditions and rituals that will be familiar to many Indian children as our soon to be very best big sister tries to accept the big change that is coming for everyone in her family.

Jen Khatun’s illustrations highlight Chitra’s characters in beautiful, expressive detail, and bring the setting and family to life. The book finishes with a glossary of new words that we discover in the story. I was hoping for a recipe for Patti’s pooris too, but a quick google solved that!

A gloriously gentle celebration of family life; the love and laughter, bustle and bickering, and wonderful wisdom from grandparents, perfect for younger readers looking for a mirror to their own family life, or window to an authentic view of a different culture. I hope we get to meet Sona and her family again soon.

Huge thanks to Walker Books for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.

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