cover image My Name Is Aviva

My Name Is Aviva

Lesléa Newman, illus. by Ag Jatkowska. Kar-Ben, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-2654-2

It’s tough to be a kid with an unusual name (unless you’re Blue Ivy Carter, perhaps). In accordance with Jewish tradition, Newman’s heroine has been named after a loved one, her late great-grandmother Ada, whose Hebrew name was Aviva. Unfortunately, it inspires her classmates to call her everything from “Amoeba” to “Viva La France.” Henceforth, Aviva wants to be known as Emily. Her parents play along, but they also make sure Aviva understand her name’s backstory: how Ada immigrated to America as a child, worked in a lace factory at age 10, taught herself English, and made chicken soup “so delicious, everyone told her to open a restaurant.” Aviva realizes that her name has a more profound meaning than she ever imagined—it connects her not only to her faith traditions but also to a woman who was “brave and smart and talented and kind.” Jatkowska’s upbeat characters have an oddly wooden, doll-like quality, but it doesn’t intrude on Newman’s storytelling, which is characteristically empathic, soulful, and wise—not to mention a great lead-in to discussions about readers’ own names. Ages 3–8. Author’s agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agency: Bright Agency. (Oct.)