Review of Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day

Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day
by Astrid Kamalyan; illus. by Anait Semirdzhyan
Primary    Charlesbridge    32 pp.
9/23    9781623543587    $17.99
e-book ed.  9781632893307    $9.99

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 siblings 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.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Grace McKinney
Grace McKinney Beermann

Grace McKinney Beermann holds an MA in Children's Literature from Simmons University and reviews for the Horn Book Magazine. She works at a Montessori school in St. Louis, Missouri, and writes about children's books and Montessori on the blog Cosmic Bookshelf.

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