Sunday, October 16, 2022

Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party

Faruqi, Saadia. Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party
October 18th 2022 by Amulet Books
E Arc provided by Edelweiss Plus

Marya is in the third grade and has a very good friend in Hanna, although she is frequently at odds with Alexa, who lives next door,  but has a much bigger and fancier house. Marya loves her family, which includes her mother, who works with plants and drives a delivery van that smells like fertilizer (aka poop), father, brother, grandmother Dadi, and older sister Aliyah, but feels they don't support her. When Alexa invites her to a birthday party, Marya gets the idea to have a fancy henna party and invite everyone from her class. The only problem? Her mother has a wedding the weekend of her birthday, and tells Marya it is out of the question. After telling Alexa that a party is in the works but swearing her to secrecy, Marya formulates a plan to help members of her family so much that they are willing to have a party for her. This doesn't go well, as she ruins her sister's perfume bottle and brother's Lego creation, snoops in Dadi's room and angers her, and even manages to fall asleep with a casserole in the oven and ends up causing a small fire. Her mother knows she means well, but still says no to a party. Her father takes her shopping for a gift for Alexa, and she attends the party. Even though it is very fancy, she doesn't see Alexa or her parents around. She sees clues that neither Alexa's mother or father will be at the party, and finds a dejected Alexa hiding. Alexa admits that her parents aren't supportive, but Marya says she should enjoy the party anyway, and come to Marya's small pizza events with Hanna. When the girls gather for a small party, Marya's family surprise her with a smaller version of her incredible party idea. 
Strengths: This is a great beginning chapter book for fans of Sheth's Nina Soni, and this author's Yasmin series. The family dynamics are interesting and supportive, even if Marya can be hard to live with. Her obsession with the birthday party is relatable, and it was good to see that even though she and Alexa aren't friends, she soon realizes that she doesn't really have any issues with Alexa, and the two learn to get along. Marya also realizes that having a bigger house doesn't necessarily lead to a better life. 
Weaknesses: A cream of mushroom soup casserole would have to be in the over at 350 for a heck of a long time before it would catch on fire, although it certainly made the book more interesting. (It would more likely just become somewhat fossilized, but that doesn't make for as good a story, and I am not going to immolate a casserole to fact check this!)
What I really think: This was a fun book for elementary school students, but I will stick to this author's A Thousand Questions , A Place at the Table (with Laura Shovan), and Yusuf Azeem is not a Hero for middle school. 
 Ms. Yingling

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