Marya Khan and the Fabulous Jasmine Garden

Amulet. (Marya Khan: Bk. 2). Mar. 2023. 144p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781419761188.
Gr 1-4–This series sequel continues the adventures of gutsy third grader Marya Khan. This time, Marya wants to prove that she isn’t a baby by taking up a big responsibility as garden leader at their school’s first-ever community garden. Also competing for that spot? Rich girl nemesis Alexa. The spirited heroine soon learns that gardening requires a lot of work and being a leader isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. She also learns that people aren’t always who they seem, and hard work is made lighter when you’re together. Along for the hijinks are Marya’s close friends and supportive family. The characters are well-developed and feel like a well-integrated part of Marya’s universe. The humor is genuine, and warmth exudes from the dialogue and prose. Faruqi continues to create relatable protagonists with age-relevant and real-kid struggles and triumphs while offering an authentic portrayal of a Muslim, Pakistani family. Those who haven’t read the first installment will be brought up to speed quickly and familiarity with the first book isn’t necessary. Words of the Day precede each chapter, which will delight word lovers and give astute readers clues as to what awaits Marya. Bushry’s black-and-white illustrations help ground the narrative and give burgeoning readers extra clues to help discern Marya’s goings-on.
VERDICT Authentic friendships, layered family dynamics, and the adventures of an intrepid heroine make this a must-have series that should be shelved next to Renée Watson’s “Ryan Hart” books.

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