Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party

Abrams/Amulet. (Marya Khan: Bk. 1). Oct. 2022. 144p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781419761164.
Gr 1-3–Seven-year-old Pakistani American Marya Khan is on the precipice of turning eight, and she has big ambitions for this year’s birthday celebration. Unfortunately, Baba and Mama are not on the same page with Marya’s plans—instead they want to do their traditional low-key, pizza-and-cake family celebration. To make matters worse, Marya’s neighbor Alexa’s birthday is two days before hers, and that celebration will be one for the books. While Marya only gets to invite her best friend Hanna to her party, Alexa is inviting the whole class. As Alexa is distributing her party invites, Marya blurts out that she, too, is having a birthday party with fairy lights, yummy food, and henna! Of course, her parents haven’t agreed to any of this, so Marya sets out on an ill-fated crusade to convince her parents that this year must be the year of the incredible henna party. Short chapters are sprinkled with simple, expressive illustrations that will keep readers who are transitioning to more text-heavy chapter books engaged. Culturally specific terms, like daal, shalwar kameez, and paratha, will be welcome by readers of South Asian descent and embraced by others not part of that community.
VERDICT This early chapter book will find favor with fans of “Definitely Dominguita” and “JoJo Makoons” and has broad appeal. Readers will look forward to reading more of plucky Marya’s adventures.

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