Review of Mama’s Sleeping Scarf, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writing as Nwa Grace-James, illustrated by Joelle Avelino

Mama’s Sleeping Scarf

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
writing as Nwa Grace-James
illustrated by Joelle Avelino

Alfred A. Knopf, 2023. 32 pages.
Review written December 13, 2023, from a library book.
Starred Review

Mama’s Sleeping Scarf is a bright and joyful picture book about a day in the life of a little preschool-age girl – and it’s held together by Mama’s sleeping scarf.

The book begins with Chino looking at Mama’s scarf. We get a full spread appreciating it:

Mama’s scarf is green.

It has big red circles and little blue circles.
Chino likes to trace the circles with her finger.
First, the big red circles.
Then, the little blue circles.

Chino likes to touch Mama’s scarf
because it is so silky and soft!

Next, the book explains that Mama wears the scarf at night to keep her hair all soft and nice. In the morning, Chino’s sad because Mama is getting ready to go to work. Mama assures Chino that she’ll always come back — and gives Chino her scarf to play with until she does.

And so begins a day of play with Mama’s scarf. I like the way at seveal points in the day, the scarf goes “wheeew!” and we see it floating across the pages.

Chino’s stuffed toy Bunny joins with her in all the play, talking to Chino in “her secret voice.” As the day goes on, Chino also interacts with Papa, Grandpa, and Grandma, with the scarf coming along, too.

After some peek-a-boo with Grandma, she offers to tie the scarf around Chino’s head — so she looks just like Mama.

Chino gets to wear the scarf all evening — even eating some vegetables the same color as in the scarf. When it’s time for bed, it’s time for Mama to wear the scarf, and when they take it off Chino’s head, the scarf again goes “Wheeew!”

A cozy happy story that ends with a child sleeping in bed, surrounded by love and good night wishes.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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