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The Picture Book Buzz

Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I remember summers spent gathering blackberries with my siblings and friends - though I think we ate and wore (nothing like a juicy food fight) more than we ever brought back. It was fun to discover a new picture book that explores the author's memories of a joyful summer tradition in Armenia. I'm excited to be able to offer you a sneak peek at this wonderful book.

Cover of book - grandmother watches as a young girl chases after a rooster, past drying rugs hung on a wall..

Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day

Author: Astrid Kamalyan

Illustrator: Anait Semirdzhyan

Publisher: Charlesbridge (2023)

Ages: 3-7



Armenian tradition, family, summer, and childhood memories.


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 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.

Opening Lines:

Warm and soft, wrinkling. Tangy, sweet, shrinking.

Cherry plums are drying under the sun. Will Bábo

notice if I have one more?

“Tato, hurry!” Sister calls. “Everyone is already there.”

What I LOVED about this book:

Using deliciously sensory language, sprinkled throughout with Armenian words in the Artsakh dialect, Astrid Kamalyan's creates a delightful summer tale of the joyous adventure four kids have washing their family's precious woven rugs. I love that our introduction to the adorable narrator is through tantalizing adjectives and the sneaking of a special treat.

Internal spread - on left young girl sneak a treat. On right, sister calls to her holding a long-handled brush.

Text © Astrid Kamalyan, 2023. Image © Anait Semirdzhyan, 2023.

What readers might think would be a chore quickly reveals an afternoon of jumping, wrestling, swooshing, and dancing as the kids playfully work the sudsy brown soap into the rugs with brushes and bare feet. Anait Semirdzhyan's earth toned, digital illustrations really make the intricate designs and colors of the rugs pop. And she does a great job portraying a bemused, watchful Bábo and joyous kids. I love her addition of the playful and observant dog and rooster.

Internal spread -  on left, two boys and a dog wrestle as Babo and girls watch. On right four kids scrub rugs as  dog and rooster watch.

Text © Astrid Kamalyan, 2023. Image © Anait Semirdzhyan, 2023.

The text creates a wonderful sensory experience as Tato describes the feel of froth "just a little cold" between their toes as they hop and jump, the sounds of the brushes “bop-bop-bop” and the "pop-pop-pop" of bubbles as the kids slide and "swoosh" across the rugs, and the air's smell of "simmering rose jam." And I love Tato's metaphorical description of the rugs - "the pale, mysterious backs of the carpets are like behind our ears" and her whimsical enthusiasm - finding clouds and snowflakes in the bubbles and rainbows in the swooshing suds splattering droplets into the sky. It's easy to be swept away into the bubbles and laughter.

When Bábo declares it's time for a final rinse, the disappointment is palatable. And though their hopeful pleading doesn't change her mind, there is one more fun adventure, both caused and remedied by the adorable Tato, before the rug-washing is done.

Internal spread - on left, young girl pointing to a rainbow made as soap and water splash. On right Babo with a hose facing four disappointed kids.

Text © Astrid Kamalyan, 2023. Image © Anait Semirdzhyan, 2023.

Wait until you see the beautifully illustrated, tender ending. It leaves the reader as toasty and satisfied as the four kids and the sun drying rugs. A helpful glossary, with pronunciations and translations, an author's note about experiences in Yerevan, Armenia (which inspired this tale), and a description of Armenian carpet-weaving tradition round out this sweet, immersive experience of a joyful childhood memory. It's a wonderful introduction to a bit of Armenian culture.


Collage of traditional Armenian rug elements.

- using the rugs in the story and/or these ideas from Camp Haiastan, create your own Armenian rug bookmark.

- describe or draw one of your family summer traditions. How many senses can you use in your description or image?

- what are your favorite summer time treats? What makes them special?

- check out Bábo's Activity Kit.

If you missed the interview with Astrid Kamalyan on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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