A beautifully designed and expertly narrated introduction to childhood in the southern Indian countryside

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MOTHER STEALS A BICYCLE

AND OTHER STORIES

An Indian mother’s tales of her mischievous rural childhood are almost too magical to believe.

In the intricate world woven by an 11-and-½-year-old child’s mother, bicycles pedal themselves, shadows become friendly ghosts, hyenas haunt the fields, and insects predict the weather. Amma’s descriptions of her exploits in the southern Indian village where she grew up walk a thin line between fact and fiction, and the narrator is never quite sure what is truth and what is exaggeration. Only one thing is certain: Whether she is plucking feathers off of a live peacock or throwing herself into a river before she knows how to properly swim, Amma’s courage and curiosity are the driving forces behind all of her fantastical adventures. By the end, the narrator wishes that they, too, lived in a place as interesting as Amma’s village. The book is written as a dialogue between a mother and child, and its conversational tone makes it suitable for both read-alouds and independent reading. The narrator’s voice is charming, as are the pen-and-ink illustrations and the cleverly designed text, which uses various fonts to emphasize key words in the narrative. Amma’s fearless and empowered personality is particularly refreshing to read, as is the book’s portrayal of rural India as a fascinating place bursting with possibility instead of an impoverished backwater in need of Western intervention.

A beautifully designed and expertly narrated introduction to childhood in the southern Indian countryside . (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-81-934485-1-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot.

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

In sixth grade, Izzy Mancini’s cozy, loving world falls apart.

She and her family have moved out of the cottage she grew up in. Her mother has spent the summer on Block Island instead of at home with Izzy. Her father has recently returned from military service in Afghanistan partially paralyzed and traumatized. The only people she can count on are Zelda and Piper, her best friends since kindergarten—that is, until the Haidary family moves into the upstairs apartment. At first, Izzy resents the new guests from Afghanistan even though she knows she should be grateful that Dr. Haidary saved her father’s life. But despite her initial resistance (which manifests at times as racism), as Izzy gets to know Sitara, the Haidarys’ daughter, she starts to question whether Zelda and Piper really are her friends for forever—and whether she has the courage to stand up for Sitara against the people she loves. Ferruolo weaves a rich setting, fully immersing readers in the largely white, coastal town of Seabury, Rhode Island. Disappointingly, the story resolves when Izzy convinces her classmates to accept Sitara by revealing the Haidarys’ past as American allies, a position that put them in so much danger that they had to leave home. The idea that Sitara should be embraced only because her family supported America, rather than simply because she is a human being, significantly undermines the purported message of tolerance for all.

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30909-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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THE BAD BEGINNING

The Baudelaire children—Violet, 14, Klaus, 12, and baby Sunny—are exceedingly ill-fated; Snicket extracts both humor and horror from their situation, as he gleefully puts them through one terrible ordeal after another. After receiving the news that their parents died in a fire, the three hapless orphans are delivered into the care of Count Olaf, who “is either a third cousin four times removed, or a fourth cousin three times removed.” The villainous Count Olaf is morally depraved and generally mean, and only takes in the downtrodden yet valiant children so that he can figure out a way to separate them from their considerable inheritance. The youngsters are able to escape his clutches at the end, but since this is the first installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, there will be more ghastly doings. Written with old-fashioned flair, this fast-paced book is not for the squeamish: the Baudelaire children are truly sympathetic characters who encounter a multitude of distressing situations. Those who enjoy a little poison in their porridge will find it wicked good fun. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-440766-7

Page Count: 162

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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