Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day

by Astrid Kamalyan (Author) Anait Semirdzhyan (Illustrator)

Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Join Tato and her family as they help Bábo (grandmother) on rug-washing day, in this sweet and playful picture book tribute to Armenian cultural traditions.

Little Tato sneaks a few cherry plums before racing off to help Bábo—her grandmother—with a favorite chore. Each year Tato looks forward to washing the family rugs. With bubbles and suds floating like clouds and snowflakes, Tato and her siblings help Bábo scrub the rugs clean.

With lively text and vivid illustrations, Astrid Kamalyan brings her charming childhood memories to life by inviting young readers to spend a day full of fun and love with an Armenian family.
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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
An enchanting celebration of heritage and childhood joy.

Horn Book Magazine

Starred Review
A lovely reminder that fun can be found in the most seemingly mundane of tasks.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Seldom has a domestic chore looked as irresistible as rug-washing does in Kamalyan's buoyant family tale. The outdoor ritual takes place under the watchful eye of grandmother Bábo as, "on the sunlit street... we will soak, soap, and wash the rugs." There, Tato the narrator, along with siblings and a neighbor, all portrayed with pale skin, make a game around textiles spread out for their annual cleaning. Once the soapy rugs have been jumped on and scrubbed, "Swoosh. We glide./ Swoosh. Droplets splash..../We twirl. Bubbles pop-pop-pop." More about the heirlooms is revealed: as they work on "Mom's favorite rug," a sibling explains that it was a wedding gift from Grandpa. Semirdzhyan's lively illustrations, digitally rendered to mimic pencil and watercolor, retain a looseness in keeping with action-oriented text as the work leads to satisfaction: "We all bit into sunny apricot pie. Powdered sugar flies." A glossary, author's note, and more about Armenian carpet-weaving conclude. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A young girl describes a beloved summertime-tradition for her Armenian-family. Guided by Bábo, or Grandmother, four children jump into action to "soak, soap, and wash" their treasured family rugs. The three sibling and a neighbor know exactly what to do: they gather their brushes, smother the rugs in bubbles and water, and brush the suds out before flipping the rugs over for a second cleaning. The kids and a dog twirl, slide, and dance together over the frothy surfaces. When at last the rugs are rinsed and drying, everyone goes inside for a special summertime treat. The text invites every sense to the experience: the sounds of the brushes ("bop-bop-bop"), the smell of the hot air ("like rose jam"), and the feeling of bubbles under toes ("so pleasant and just a little cold"). The digitally rendered illustrations are lively and full of specificity; occasional aerial views show the intricate details of the traditional hand-woven rugs. A glossary provides translations and pronunciations of Artsakh Armenian words peppered through the text; the author's note and back matter provide more information about this story and the traditions behind it. A lovely reminder that fun can be found in the most seemingly mundane of tasks.

—The Horn Book, starred review 

Astrid Kamalyan
Astrid Kamalyan comes from a big, happy family and is the oldest of five. She spent most of her childhood in Armenia. As a child, she wished she could one day paint the beautiful mountains of Artsakh. Now she paints with words and writes for the most important people in the world--kids. Astrid holds an MBA degree from the American University of Armenia. She currently shares her time between Chicago and Yerevan, Armenia.

Anait Semirdzhyan is an illustrator with a passion for children's books. She grew up in a multicultural family and has lived in several countries with diverse cultures. Now she lives in the Seattle area with her husband and twin daughters. Anait enjoys afternoon walks with her four-legged shaggy friend. www.anaitsart.com
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Charlesbridge Publishing
Publication date
September 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV030110 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | Middle East
JUV074000 - Juvenile Fiction | Diversity & Multicultural
Library of Congress categories
Rugs, Armenian
Rug cleaning

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