Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
It's the first day of school for exuberant narrator Zubi Chowdhury, a round, Muslim Bangladeshi American child. That morning, she witnesses her family bemoaning their weight: Amma calls her tummy "too big," Zubi's older sister Naya turns down parathas because she's dieting for a school dance, and Baba says it's "not good" that he's "up to a large now" in shirt size. At school, a classmate says that a nonbinary student looks fat in their silk dress. Zubi's confusion comes to a head at dinnertime, with an outburst leading to a valuable family conversation: "Sometimes we can be mean to ourselves without even realizing it. And when we hurt ourselves, we hurt the people we love and who love us." Ali adds vibrant, expressive digital illustrations to this candid primer on body acceptance, a salient reminder to guardians of children's emotional osmosis. Back matter includes a Bengali-English glossary. Ages 4--8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 1--It is Zubi's first day of school. As she greets her family members, she is dismayed to hear her mother, sister, and father all bemoan the fact that they are too big or need to go on a diet. Zubi then witnesses a classmate at school being teased for being overweight and wonders to herself, "Why is looking fat bad?" Zubi internalizes the comment and returns home upset that she may become the target of teasing or criticism about her weight. Her family members assure her that, "Beauty is how you make people feel and the kind things you do." Despite the theme of body positivity, the message is heavy-handed and even contradictory, given the depiction of plump Zubi next to her traditionally pretty (and thin) sister Naya. Things are too neatly wrapped up as her family assures her that her name, which means "loving and understanding," will somehow translate to Zubi's having an easier time in a world not accustomed to acceptance of out-of-the-norm body types. The cartoon-like illustrations are exuberantly colorful; Zubi's family members have brown skin and wear a mix of Bangladeshi and Western clothing, while her classmates and teacher are shown as having diverse backgrounds. Back matter includes a glossary of Bengali terms. VERDICT This title is more for collections seeking strong depictions of a modern Bangladeshi family than it is a realistic look at body image.--Sue Morgan, Hillsborough City School District, Hillsborough, CA
On the first day of school, Zubi Chowdhury's enthusiasm might only be matched by the exuberance of her new outfit, made specially for her in Bangladesh. But seemingly innocuous comments by her family about their growing girths make Zubi wonder if being plump is reason to worry. At school she soon forgets, making friends and enjoying her teacher until another unkind remark on the playground affirms Zubi's fear. At home, her family notes her despondence, and after she tells them, they have some reflection to do. There's much to like about this book: the representation of a Bengali family, the seamless inclusion of a nonbinary character, and the mirror it holds up to adults who should know how their words affect children. This contains a powerful message about how the seeds of prejudice are sown even within a kind and loving context and how adults can take responsibility and make amends for their actions. Brilliant colors and cheerful details in the illustrations keep the tone upbeat and the message of acceptance consistent.
Kirkus Book Review
Zubi Chowdhury is thrilled about her first day of school. She's got a special outfit picked out: a pink shirt paired with overalls tailored in Bangladesh. She's got her hair in a special style: two bouncy, perfect pigtails. And she's got the perfect accessories: butterfly clips and bangles. Zubi feels gorgeous--but the rest of her Bangladeshi Muslim family doesn't. Her mother bemoans her large stomach, her older sister, Naya, is on a diet in preparation for the school dance, and her father frets about how much weight he's recently gained. Then, at school, Zubi's classmate Kennedy calls their classmate Alix fat. Zubi--who illustrations reveal is fat--has always loved her body, but after this onslaught of negative messaging at home and in the schoolyard, she wonders if she's deluding herself. At dinner, she decides to go on a diet. When she announces this to her family, her parents, siblings, and grandmother launch into a round of self-reflection that culminates in a frank conversation about what it really means to be beautiful. This warmly illustrated picture book features characters with varying body types, skin colors, and hair textures. Zubi's slow descent from self-confidence to self-doubt realistically brings to light the subtle messages children get from friends and family about which bodies are valued and which are not. Zubi's conversation with her family is a model for parents and children alike. (This book was reviewed digitally.) A spunky and sincere picture book about body positivity. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.