Join Tato and her family as they help Bábo (grandmother) on rug-washing day in this sweet and playful picture book tribute to Armenian cultural traditions.
Little Tato sneaks a few cherry plums before racing off to help Bábo—her grandmother—with a favorite chore. Each year Tato looks forward to washing the family rugs. With bubbles and suds floating like clouds and snowflakes, Tato and her siblings and a friend help Bábo scrub the rugs clean.
With lively text and vivid illustrations, Astrid Kamalyan brings her charming childhood memories to life by inviting young readers to spend a day full of fun and love with an Armenian family.
Back matter includes more information about the Armenian carpet-weaving tradition, an author’s note, and a glossary of words from the Artsakh dialect.
“Bábo” is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and has earned starred reviews from Kirkus, The Horn Book, and Publishers Weekly.
“Tato, a young Armenian child, eagerly awaits rug-washing day.
As Tato gathers with siblings and neighbors outside under the watchful eye of Bábo (grandma), the space transforms into a lively playground where the children wash rugs. The book captures the essence of childhood, depicting the sheer thrill of jumping, scrubbing, and playing with bubbles and water. With compelling descriptions and inspired metaphors, young Tato paints a vivid picture of textures, smells, and sights. “Bounce clouds!” “Snowflakes!” squeals Tato as a sudsy foam forms. Tato is bigger and more mature since the last rug-washing day and gets to prove it by helping out when the chickens get loose. Cultural elements are seamlessly woven throughout the book, from the significance of a wedding gift rug to the apricot pie that delights the hardworking children at the end of the day. The intricate, vibrant rugs pop in the beautiful, earth-toned illustrations. Filled with action and dramatic angles, the art brings this tale to life and adds whimsy to the text. Armenian words in the Artsakh dialect are interspersed and explained in a glossary. In an author’s note, Kamalyan discusses how her own grandmother and her experiences growing up in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, inspired this story.
“An enchanting celebration of heritage and childhood joy. (about Armenian carpet-weaving tradition),” said a review by Kirkus.
“A young girl describes a beloved summertime-tradition for her Armenian-family. Guided by Bábo, or Grandmother, four children jump into action to “soak, soap, and wash” their treasured family rugs. The three sibling and a neighbor know exactly what to do: they gather their brushes, smother the rugs in bubbles and water, and brush the suds out before flipping the rugs over for a second cleaning. The kids and a dog twirl, slide, and dance together over the frothy surfaces. When at last the rugs are rinsed and drying, everyone goes inside for a special summertime treat. The text invites every sense to the experience: the sounds of the brushes (“bop-bop-bop”), the smell of the hot air (“like rose jam”), and the feeling of bubbles under toes (“so pleasant and just a little cold”). The digitally rendered illustrations are lively and full of specificity; occasional aerial views show the intricate details of the traditional hand-woven rugs. A glossary provides translations and pronunciations of Artsakh Armenian words peppered through the text; the author’s note and back matter provide more information about this story and the traditions behind it. A lovely reminder that fun can be found in the most seemingly mundane of tasks,” noted a review by The Horn Book.
“Seldom has a domestic chore looked as irresistible as rug-washing does in Kamalyan’s buoyant family tale. The outdoor ritual takes place under the watchful eye of grandmother Bábo as, ‘on the sunlit street… we will soak, soap, and wash the rugs.’ There, Tato the narrator, along with siblings and a neighbor, all portrayed with pale skin, make a game around textiles spread out for their annual cleaning. Once the soapy rugs have been jumped on and scrubbed, ‘Swoosh. We glide./ Swoosh.Droplets splash…./We twirl. Bubbles pop-pop-pop.’ More about the heirlooms is revealed: as they work on ‘Mom’s favorite rug,’ a sibling explains that it was a wedding gift from Grandpa. Semirdzhyan’s lively illustrations, digitally rendered to mimic pencil and watercolor, retain a looseness in keeping with action-oriented text as the work leads to satisfaction: ‘We all bit into sunny apricot pie. Powdered sugar flies,’” said a review by Publishers Weekly.
Astrid Kamalyan comes from a big, happy family and is the oldest of five. She spent most of her childhood in Armenia. As a child, she wished she could one day paint the beautiful mountains of Artsakh. Now she paints with words and writes for the most important people in the world—kids. Astrid holds an MBA degree from the American University of Armenia. She currently shares her time between Chicago and Yerevan, Armenia.
Anait Semirdzhyan is an illustrator with a passion for children’s books. She grew up in a multicultural family and has lived in several countries with diverse cultures. Now she lives in the Seattle area with her husband and twin daughters. Anait enjoys afternoon walks with her four-legged shaggy friend.
“Bábo” is sold at bookstores across the United States, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Penguin Random House, Bookshop.org and Abril Books, which is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book towards organizations that aid forcibly displaced families from Artsakh.
If you’re in LA, join Astrid Kamalyan and Abrik Bookstore for book reading and signing on October 14 at 1 p.m. Part of proceeds from sales will be donated to aid the forcibly displaced families from Artsakh. The event is free but spaces are limited, RSVP here.