Tara the Rickshaw and the Tale of the Lost Kitten (Amna Nasima)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Tara the Rickshaw and the Tale of the Lost Kitten, written by Amna Nasima and illustrated by Saliha Arif and Sarah Rajper, a tale of friendship and community.

In an unspecified town on the coast of the Indian Ocean, a colorful little rickshaw named Tara loves nothing more than to introduce her passengers to the sights, sounds, and tastes of South Asia. One day, she meets a little gray kitten named Meru who has been separated from her family, and helpful Tara vows to help Meru search high and low for them. Tara enlists the help of her previous passengers and friends at a local dhaba, then searches mango groves, parks, the beach, and the market for signs of Meru’s family. Yet as the sun sets, there is no sign of them – what will Tara and Meru do?

A simple story with unique immersion. Nasima’s rhyming text offers a predictable yet sweet tale of finding lost family and making new friends along the way, with the main areas of interest coming from the immersive look at a few elements of everyday, multicultural South Asian life. The meter of the rhyme is fairly consistent, with only a few stumbles and awkward lines, which makes for easy reading aloud, and nicely incorporates a few Urdu/Hindi words like “chaiwala” and “piyari beti,” providing glossary definitions in the backmatter. The watercolor-and-digital art leans towards simplistic style for some characters, but the over abundance of watercolors unfortunately makes well-designed characters (like Tara) and locations difficult to distinguish visually from their surroundings. The length is fine for an elementary storytime, though the ending seems to drag a bit, and JJ enjoyed the animals and gentle story. Overall, this one definitely has some areas of improvement, but tells a classic and heartwarming story that incorporates authentic South Asian representation, and is worth a look. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)