Gr 1–4—Priya is launching her own business, party planning! After successfully planning and hosting her three-year-old brother's birthday party, Priya is organizing her aunt Layla's, too. The prospect of this new adventure is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Every day after school, Priya spends time planning for her special aunty, with the help of friend and neighbor Melissa. Some of Priya's family appear in traditional Indian attire, and the amazing menu presented reflects Priya's culture as well. It's clear that Priya has some form of anxiety, and it is normalized through the character development. The 10 chapters, each from eight to 12 pages long, make for a readable and well-paced text for youngsters. Each page has color illustrations, and a variety of techniques are used for visual supports, including word bubbles, glossaries, lists, and maps. While this is a work of fiction, there is an element of nonfiction in the depiction of what party planning entails: supplies, menu planning, and DIY decorations, to name a few. VERDICT This series debut aimed at newly independent readers provides short, colorful, diary-style entries with a sweet central character. Strongly recommended.—Linda Annable
When Priya Chakraborty starts her own party-planning business, her community comes through to help her succeed—and to calm her anxiety.
Priya, a young South Asian American girl, loves crafts, her best friend, Melissa (depicted as light-skinned in the illustrations), and quokkas, fuzzy Australian animals in danger of extinction. What she doesn’t love are surprises. So when her mother’s best friend, Layla Aunty, asks Priya to throw her birthday party, Priya uses her diary to stay organized and avoid the unexpected. While she’s excited about Layla Aunty’s orange-themed party, she’s also anxious and overwhelmed: There are orange snacks to prepare, orange decorations to make, and orange invitations to deliver. Luckily, Priya doesn’t have to do any of this alone: Melissa helps her deliver invitations, her Dida helps her make snacks, and, on the day of the party, her mother’s friends help her decorate. Thanks to Priya’s creativity, the day is a resounding success—such a success, in fact, that it leads to even more business for Priya’s Parties. Priya is a well-rounded, nuanced protagonist whose enthusiasm and anxiety will resonate with readers, and the narrative, peppered with bright images, is fast-moving. The text offers pronunciation guidance for potentially unfamiliar words, such as quokka or the various snacks for the party (jalebi, chevdo, etc.).
A layered, upbeat tale starring a determined, relatable protagonist. (Chapter book. 7-10)