The Big Buna Bash (Brandylane Publishers) is a delightful new children’s book that reminds readers that our differences are what make us special.

In The Big Buna Bash, young Almaz is finally getting used to her new school and is making friends. She worries about fitting in. She wishes to have a “regular” name like her peers. After a class activity makes one of her family’s traditions the subject of teasing, Almaz makes lemonade out of lemons—or in this case, coffee from coffee beans. She uses her turn at show-and-tell to explain the tradition and invites her classmates to participate in a buna hosted by Almaz herself.

As Almaz teaches us, buna is an important ceremony in Ethiopian culture in which coffee is prepared in front of the guests as a sign of friendship and hospitality. Everyone drinks and enjoy the opportunity to spend time together. In comparison to Americans who drink their coffee very quickly, the buna ceremony highlights the importance of togetherness and sharing.

Almaz’s classmates love the buna party. They learn more about their new classmate’s culture and enjoy some coffee (a first for many of them). In the end, they begin to complement Almaz’s name. She proudly tells us that it means “Diamond.”

The Big Buna Bash delivers an important message through its child characters. Almaz’s peers tease her for the things that make her different, and rather than letting that defeat her, she turns the situation into an opportunity to help everyone learn something new.

Almaz demonstrates a remarkable maturity and strength in choosing to try and educate her peers. By fostering a sense of understanding, she is able to give her classmates a wonderful experience that they will enjoy. While starting a new school can be hard, Almaz learns a powerful lesson about being who you are and just how interesting that can make you.

The Big Buna Bash is now available for purchase.

Sara C. Arnold

Sara Arnold is an English teacher in an elementary school in the Israeli Education Department with over 30 years of experience teaching children of all backgrounds. A self-proclaimed buna lover, Arnold learned about Ethiopian culture as an Aunt to an extended Ethiopian/Israeli family. Along with her teaching credentials, she holds a B.A. in Music. Arnold immigrated from the United States to Israel in 1981 and currently resides in Jerusalem.

Roberta Malasomma

Roberta Malasomma was born in Naples, Italy. In 2013, she earned her bachelor’s degree in graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts. Using her passion for drawing, Roberta followed her dreams and started illustrating children’s books. Her favorite illustrators are Beatrix Potter and Helen Oxembury.