Review of Room for Everyone

Room for Everyone
by Naaz Khan; illus. by Mercè López
Preschool, Primary    Dlouhy/Atheneum    40 pp.    g
11/21    978-1-5344-3139-3    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-3140-9    $10.99

Young Musa and his sister hop aboard the daladala that will drive them from town to the Zanzibar shore. The vehicle is already crowded; nevertheless, when the driver sees an elderly man walking his bike, he stops. “It’s hotter than peppers out there in the sun! / Come in, there’s room for everyone!” offers the driver, which becomes the text’s lively and welcoming refrain. As more and more people — and goods and livestock and milk pails and open umbrellas and stinky fish — board the daladala, Musa expresses his dismay: “‘But, Dada,’ said Musa, ‘can there really be / enough room for a cycle, two goats, and me?’” His sister reminds him — and without a hint of didacticism — that there’s always room for another person in need (yes, even scuba-diving tourists). Khan’s rhymes are electric, her wordplay flawless, and her sound effects entertaining to say aloud. López’s (Lion of the Sky, rev. 3/19) marvelous illustrations, in acrylic, ink, graphite, and digital media, employ a multitude of patterns and textures, hustling and bustling right along with the constant, colorful activity. A glossary and “Note on Zanzibar” are appended. Pair with Margot Zemach’s classic It Could Always Be Worse, another uproariously overcrowded cumulative tale (based on a Yiddish folktale) with an underlying message about generosity and gratitude.

From the January/February 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.