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by Tina Athaide ; illustrated by Åsa Gilland

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64567-286-9
Publisher: Page Street

When Meena goes to visit her grandfather in his South Asian village, she is followed by her “hurly-burly hullabaloo”—an imaginary being that incites Meena to create chaos wherever she goes.

Meena and her hullabaloo (depicted as a wispy-edged, blue-green blob with striped arms and legs) try to calm down by doing yoga with Dada. But no matter how hard she works to hold tree pose, Meena can’t seem to stop her throat from singing or her legs and toes from wiggling and waggling. On the beach, Meena and the hullabaloo wreak havoc, tangling the fishermen’s nets and splashing everyone with a huge wave. Before long, the villagers can’t take it anymore, and they scold Meena before Dada placates them. Meena is saddened by this anger but is unsure what to do. Then her Dada introduces her to his very own hullabaloo (who’s very similar to Meena’s, except it’s white, like Dada’s hair). Meena now feels less alone and is ultimately able to force her hullaballoo into a state of calm. The book’s bright and busy illustrations pulse with life, and the text is simple, clear, and easy to read. While the mindfulness message is a positive one, in practice, this is essentially a story about a girl being punished for being loud and full of life: Meena’s transformation is sparked by the villagers’ anger at her being her loud, unadulterated self, and her triumphant self-control comes at the expense of her expansive personality.

Sweet and well intentioned but misses the mark.

(Picture book. 3-6)