Thursday, February 16, 2023

Mama Shamsi at the Bazaar

K-Gr 3—A young girl accompanying her grandmother to the bazaar is nervous about getting lost in the busy market. Samira suggests that she hide under Shamsi's chador, perhaps riding on her back or tucked in by her belly. Her grandmother gently turns down each idea, replying that the merchants will think she is a turtle all hunched over or perhaps a kangaroo with a pouch. Illustrations show Shamsi transformed into a mule and even a giraffe too tall to fit on the page, inviting readers to laugh at the silliness. Images also capture the loving relationship between Samira and Shamsi, as well as showing details of the bazaar. Intricate tilework, Arabic script on banners and shop signs, and vendors selling fresh bread all bring the market to vibrant life. The mother-daughter team of authors based the story on their own experiences with a grandmother's chador as a safe place to shelter. Hassani also pulled from her memories of the bazaar she visited during her childhood in Tehran, while the illustrator used her knowledge of the Arab world to make each scene so authentic one can almost smell the steamed beets. VERDICT An affectionate portrayal of a grandmother and grandchild that also showcases a cultural garment in much the same way as Carmen Tafolla's What Can You Do with a Rebozo?

My review originally appeared in School Library Journal.

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