When her source of books is threatened, so is 9-year-old Yasmin’s goal of reading a book a day “forever.”
The inspiration behind and assistant to her in that goal is Book Uncle, owner of a free lending library on the street corner where she lives. His motto is to provide the “right book for the right person for the right day.” When Book Uncle is forced to shut down his lending library because he can’t afford the permit, Yasmin is disappointed and confused. She is then motivated to try and get the lending library back in business and enlists the help of her friends and then their larger neighborhood. All this happens amid a mayoral election, which provides the perfect background for the plot. Yasmin is a precocious, inquisitive protagonist with a tendency to speak before she thinks. Her relationships with her family and friends read as authentic and loving, even, and perhaps especially, in the moments when they are not perfect. This all lays the foundation for the community organizing that later becomes so necessary in effecting the change that Yasmin seeks to make. Swaney’s playful, childlike illustrations advance the action and help to bring Yasmin’s Indian city to life.
Yasmin’s campaign should help inspire young readers to believe in their own potential to make a difference and teach the valuable lesson that sometimes it takes several small actions to make big moves. (Fiction. 8-11)