Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister?

by Chitra Soundar (Author) Jen Khatun (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Can Sona be the best big sister ever when she's not sure she even wants a baby sister or brother? Brimming with warmth and charm, this story set in India will resonate with new older siblings everywhere.

Sona Sharma's house is full of three generations of people who joke often and argue sometimes. Relatives come over unannounced, the phone rings frequently, and friends drop by all the time. Then one day Amma tells Sona that she is going to have a baby. Is that good? Sona isn't so sure. She doesn't want to share her room or her things with a new baby, not to mention the attention of Amma, Appa, Thatha, and Paatti. And despite Amma's assurance that the sky always has room for new stars, Sona doesn't feel stretchy or bighearted like the sky. But when she learns there will be a baby-naming ceremony, she's determined to find the best name for her new brother or sister--one as nice as her own, a Hindi word for "gold." Perfectly pitched to young readers, this tale of warming up to change is followed by a glossary of words from India to explore in the story.

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Kirkus Reviews

A charming story about becoming a big sister.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 1-3--The tapestry of Sona's life is woven with the people of her vibrant, bustling multigenerational Indian family: her parents, Amma and Appa; her grandparents Thatha, Paatti, and the President; and her stuffed elephant, who is called, much to his chagrin, Elephant. Sona's life is about to change as her parents prepare to welcome a baby. And Sona, like many first-time older siblings, is feeling a variety of emotions. Will she have to leave her home and live with her maternal grandmother, the President, as Amma awaits the new baby? Will Sona be able to share her parents' love and attention with the baby? Can she come up with the perfect name for her new sibling's naming ceremony? The emotional journey of this soon-to-be big sister unfolds delicately, with the perfect balance of gravitas and humor. Young readers will be quickly absorbed in the character-driven plot and description of Hindu baby-welcoming ceremonies and customs. In a particularly touching scene, Amma assuages Sona's worries of being forgotten by comparing the family's love for Sona and her future sibling to the sky making space for the birth of a star. Khatun's linear illustrative style pairs well with the text, giving life to the lush foliage of India and the charming characters of Sona's family. VERDICT This chapter book's unique take on the familiar theme of welcoming a new baby is elevated by Soundar's exceptional characterization and Khatun's appealing art. A recommended purchase for school and public library collections.--Sarah Simpson, Westerville P.L., OH

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

This is a classic early chapter book, suitable for reading aloud as well as alone, with a gently humorous and imaginative style that effectively conveys character (Sona's grandmother's house has "breakable glass and unbreakable rules") and loving family dynamics, and there's an A. A. Milne flavor to Elephant's sometimes grumpy interjections (heard, of course, only by Sona). Sona's daily life filled with relatives, conversation, and tasty food will be relatable to some kids and enviable for others, and the name-day celebration may make all wish for a younger sibling to occasion such a party.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

This chapter book's unique take on the familiar theme of welcoming a new baby is elevated by Soundar's exceptional characterization and Khatun's appealing art. A recommended purchase for school and public library collections.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Sona's mother is almost ready to give birth, and her Hindu family is getting ready for the baby's naming ceremony. . . . The book features a highly accessible story about transitioning from being an only child to a sibling, and it depicts well-developed, positive relationships among members of three generations, all of whom burst with personality. . . . A charming story about becoming a big sister.
—Kirkus Reviews

Soundar neatly folds familiar themes of changing family roles, adapting to new circumstances, and dealing with big feelings into this beautifully illustrated chapter book showcasing India's culture and traditions.

A sweet chapter book filled with charming illustrations on each page.
—Book Riot
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
September 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV013070 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Siblings
JUV013040 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | New Baby
JUV030020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | Asia
Library of Congress categories
Family life
East Indians
Domestic fiction
ALSC Notable Children's Book
Selection 2022

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