India Wimple is a brilliant speller.
Each Friday night, the Wimple family huddles around the TV to watch the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee, and she spells the words correctly every time. Still, when her little brother, Boo, suggests she sign up for the competition, the extremely shy India has her doubts. After some convincing, India makes the “valorous decision” to go for it. With the support of her loving family and some townsfolk (dressed in animal onesies in the belief the silliness will give her confidence), India is soon on her way from rural Yungabilla to the live, televised final at the Sydney Opera House. Each chapter of this Australian import begins with a featured word, defined and used in a sentence, that sums up the chapter. The black-and-white artwork supports the assumption that India (named for the country where her white parents met) is white; however, the illustrations of a dark-haired India contradict the text, which describes her as a redhead. Most of the supporting characters are white, although India’s spelling bee competitor and new friend is an actual Indian boy named Rajish. Both droll and heartwarming, the tale is rather more reminiscent of Little Miss Sunshine than Spellbound in its evocation of the quirky, lovingly supportive Wimples.
This story about facing and overcoming one’s fears is a winner. (Fiction. 7-11)