Category Archives: South Asia Book

Dear Mrs. Naidu

dear-mrs-naiduSpunky twelve-year-old Sarojini lives in Bangalore with her mother, who works in rich people’s houses. They struggle to make ends meet. Her best friend Amir has moved from their poor government school to a posh private school and Sarojini worries that she has lost her friend. She learns about the Right to Education law and becomes determined to improve her school. She gets help from feisty Deepti, a classmate; Vimala Madam, a human rights lawyer who might also be an evil genius; and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, a long-dead freedom fighter and poet. Told through letters written to Mrs. Naidu, this is Sarojini’s life-changing journey, where she learns about justice and important education issues in India. The book concludes with a note about the real Sarojini Naidu and a list of organizations working for child rights. mjw
Title: Dear Mrs. Naidu
Author: Mathangi Subramanian
Publisher
: Zubaan Publishers Pvt Ltd. New Delhi
Copyright
: 2015
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-93-83074-98-3 
Paperback pages
: 286
Age range
: 12 up
Genre
: Fiction
Book setting
: Bangalore, India
Author’s residence
: New Delhi, Delhi, India
Awards
: 2016 South Asia Book Award
Subjects
: Education, Friendship, Human rights, Law, Right to Education

Same, Same But Different

same same butElliot lives in America and Kailish lives in India. They exchange drawings and notes as part of a Picture Pals project in their schools. The boys compare families, pets, cities, alphabets, and art and yoga classes, and discover that they are best friends even though they live in two different worlds. Or do they? “Different, different but the same!” The colorful, detailed and vivid art, rendered in acrylic, crayon, pencil, collage, and tissue paper, illustrates the differences and similarities between the boys’ homes. Stamps on the endpapers are whimsical and fun. In this age of instant access through the Internet, students can see a different way to communicate. The author/illustrator traveled to Nepal and India where she learned the popular saying “same, same but different” that is used to compare cultures. mjw
Title: Same, Same But Different
Author: Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Illustrator
: Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Publisher
: Henry Holt and Company, New York
Copyright
: 2011
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-0-8050-8946-2
Hardcover pages
: 40
Age range
: 4-7
Genre
: Picture Book
Book setting
: U.S. and India
Author’s ethnicity
: U.S.
Author’s residence
: U.S.
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: U.S.
Illustrator’s residence
: U.S.
Awards
: 2012 South Asia Book Award, 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award
Subjects
: Alphabet, Friendship, Pen pals

The Secret Sky: A Novel Of Forbidden Love In Afghanistan

secret skyThis modern Romeo and Juliet story of sorts, set in Afghanistan, is narrated by three of the main characters. Samiullah, a Pashtun boy, and Fatima, a Hazara girl, are two innocent teenagers who fall in love. Their ethnic groups differ and do not get along because of their historical backgrounds. Their desire to get married disgraces their families and sets a series of horrific events in motion. The third narrator is Samiullah’s cousin Rashid, the villain, who has fallen under the influence of the Taliban. He has seen Samiullah and Fatima together, assumes the worst, and turns them in to the local Taliban. Disturbing depictions of physical, emotional, and sexual violence against men, women, and children; amazing acts of kindness, bravery, and sacrifice; vivid imagery; complex characters; and a suspenseful ending make the book unputdownable. Though fictional, this powerful and hopeful love story paints a realistic picture of the conflicts and culture clashes in Afghanistan today. The author was a foreign news correspondent in Kabul for nearly five years. mjw
Title: The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love In Afghanistan
Author: Atia Abawi
Publisher
: Philomel Books, Penguin Young Readers Group
Copyright
: 2014
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-0-399-16078-3
Hardcover pages
: 320
Age range
: 14 up
Genre
: Fiction
Book setting
: Afghanistan
Author’s ethnicity
: Afghani
Author’s residence
: Jerusalem
Awards
: 2015 South Asia Book Award – Highly Commended, 2015 Amelia Bloomer List
Subjects
: Conflict, Culture, Ethnic relations, Family relations, Hazaras, Love, Marriage, Pushtuns, Social justice, Talibans

Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus And The Village Bank

22 centsMuhammad Yunis grew up in India in the 1940s in a family that cared for and wanted to help others. He witnessed extreme poverty. He studied economics in America, and when he returned to his homeland (which became Bangladesh), as an economics professor, he founded Grameen Bank where people could borrow small amounts of money to start a job, and then pay back the bank without unfairly high interest charges. Over the next years, he was responsible for loaning more than 10 billion U.S. dollars in micro-credit, and empowering the poor, especially women, to break the cycle of poverty. Yunus would become renowned as the Banker to the Poor. Accurate and authentic soft chalk pastels enhance this true story. Back matter includes an Afterword with information on poverty in America, an update on Yunus’s life, and photos of him as a young Boy Scout and as a Nobel Prize laureate in 2006. Author’s Sources are also provided. mjw
Title: Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus And The Village Bank
Author: Paula Yoo
Illustrator
: Jamel Akib
Publisher
: Lee & Low Books, New York
Copyright
: 2014
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-60060-658-8
Hardcover pages
: 40
Age range
: 6-11
Genre
: Picture book, Biography
Book setting
: India and Bangladesh
Author’s ethnicity
: Korean-American
Author’s residence
: U.S.
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: English and Malaysian
Illustrator’s residence
: England
Awards
: 2015 South Asia Book Award, 2015 IRA Notable Books for a Global Society
Subjects
: Bangladesh, Bankers, Economics, Economists, Generosity, Microcredit, Microfinance, Nobel Peace Prize 2006, Social activists, Social justice

A Moment Comes

a moment comesSet preceding the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan, this story of turmoil and politics is told from the alternating points of view of three very different narrators. Margaret is a privileged British girl, living in India because her father is one of the cartographers finalizing the borders that will divide the country into two separate religious states. She is spoiled and finds India hot, loud, and dangerous, but is enthralled by the culture. Anupreet, a beautiful Sikh girl, once confined to her home to protect her from violent angry men, is employed as a maid for Margaret’s family, where her family believes she will be safe. Eighteen-year-old Tariq, a Muslim, hired as a translator for Margaret’s father, is caught between his forbidden interest in Anupreet and Margaret, who might be able to help with his goal of studying at Oxford. It is a dark and violent time, when no one is safe. Ultimately, 10 to 14 million people in India relocated and over one million died as a result. The time of Partition is underexplored in Western literature, especially in young adult historical fiction. A Glossary defines words used in the book and also mentions places and foods.   An Author’s Note offers even more information and details Bradbury’s connection to India. mjw
Title: A Moment Comes
Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Publisher
: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster, New York
Copyright
: 2013
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-4169-7876-3
Hardcover pages
: 288
Age range
: 12 up
Genre
: Historical fiction
Book setting
: Jalandhar, India
Author’s ethnicity
: U.S.
Author’s residence
: U.S.  Author has lived in India.
Awards: 2014 South Asia Book Award
Subjects
: Culture, Household employees, India, Muslims, Pakistan, Partition 1947, Punjabi, Radcliffe Line, Sikhs, Tolerance

A Time To Dance

A Time to Dance Book Cover Teenage Veda, who studies classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam, is injured in a car accident and her leg has to be amputated below the knee.  She is devastated, but an American doctor understands her love of dance and designs a special prosthetic limb for her.  Veda starts dancing all over again.  She meets Govinda, a student teacher, who shows her a new way to bring joy to her dancing and who becomes her love interest.  This enthralling story of Veda’s journey and of familial relationships in modern India is told in verse that captures the fascination of India. mjw
Title: A Time To Dance
Author: Padma Venkatraman
Publisher
: Nancy Paulsen Book, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group
Copyright
: 2014
Original language
: English
ISBN
: 978-0-399-25710-0
Hardcover pages
: 320
Age range
: 12 up
Genre
: Novel in Verse/Poetry
Book setting
: India
Author’s ethnicity
: Indian
Author’s residence
: United States
Awards:  2015 South Asia Book Award – Honor, Grades 6 and up
Subjects
: Amputees, Dance, India, Novels in verse, People with disabilities, Southern Asia

Razia’s Ray Of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of An Education

Razia's Ray of Hope Book Cover When young Razia learns that there will be a new school for girls in her Afghan village, she is determined to attend.  Her baba gi (grandfather) supports her, but her father and brothers refuse to give her permission.  The school’s founder assures them that Razia will be safe and that allowing her to go to school will be for the good of the family, the village, and the country.  The book is a fictionalized account of the building of the Zabuli Education Center, a school for girls in the Afghan village of Deh’Subz.  The story is enhanced by photo, fabric, and drawing collage.  Illustrations capture the beauty and harsh realities of the small village.  Background information on the lack of girls’ education worldwide; a brief biography of Razia Jan, the school’s founder; a glossary; and classroom activities accompany this powerful book. mjw
Title: Razia’s Ray Of Hope: One Girl’s Dream Of An Education
Author: Elizabeth Suneby
Illustrator
: Suana Verelst
Publisher
: Kids Can Press Ltd.
Copyright
: 2013
Original language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-55453-816-4
Hardcover pages
: 32
Age range
: 8-12
Genre
: Picture Book
Book setting
: Afghanistan
Author’s residence
: United States
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Belgian
Illustrator’s residence
: Canada
Awards
: 2014 USBBY Outstanding International Book List, 2014 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor, 2014 South Asia Book Award, 2014 Middle East Outreach Council Book Award
Subjects
: Afghanistan, Girl’s educations, Southern Asia