cover image Room for Everyone

Room for Everyone

Naaz Khan, illus. by Mercè López. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3139-3

This irrepressible story in verse by newcomer Khan is simultaneously a counting book and a study in generosity of spirit. Siblings Musa and Dada are taking a daladala to the “blue crystal waters of Zanzibar” when the driver spots an old man and his bicycle. “It’s hotter than peppers out there in the sun,” the driver calls. “Come in, there’s room for everyone!” More invitations follow: a herder and two goats, three fruit vendors, a farmer with four full milk pails. Musa protests: “We don’t have the space!” But the passengers willingly relinquish room (through “a shuffle, a squirm, and a squeeze”) to accommodate the newcomers. By the time 10 divers want to board the bursting vehicle, Musa has entered into the spirit of things: “Come join the fun! We’ll make enough room for everyone!” López (I Am Smoke) brings bright color, fine draftsmanship, and communal warmth to jovially packed spreads. Even the characters’ robes and the attractive chaos of the things they carry are captured with care in this affirming portrait set in East Africa. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)