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Author: Venkatraman, Padma
Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Chennai, India.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 501239
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.20
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 76470
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/15/18)
School Library Journal (+) (02/01/19)
Booklist (+) (02/01/19)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/01/19)
The Hornbook (00/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/01/2019 *Starred Review* In India, 11-year-old Viji and her 12-year-old sister, Rukku, run away to Chennai after their violent father strikes out at them. Unprepared for living on the streets, they befriend two homeless boys: Arul, who lost his family in a tsunami, and Muthu, who escaped from a so-called school where he was confined and forced to work. Together they pick through garbage dumps for glass and metal scraps to sell, sleep on an abandoned bridge, and form their own family. Rukku’s intellectual disability has made her dependent on Viji, who gradually learns that her sister is more capable than she had thought. When Rukku and Muthu fall ill, Viji makes tough decisions in hopes of saving their lives and later must cope with her grief before she can move on. The four children and their tight-knit relationship are portrayed with conviction and finesse. Written in the form of a letter from Viji to her sister, the affecting narrative transports readers to a faraway setting that becomes vivid and real. Although the young characters face unusually difficult challenges, they nevertheless find the courage they need to move forward. The author of A Time to Dance (2014), Venkatraman offers an absorbing novel of love, loss, and resilience. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2019 Gr 4–6—In her stellar middle grade debut, Venkatraman (A Time to Dance) brings compassionate attention to the plight of India's homeless children. Fleeing their father's physical abuse, sisters Viji and Rukku end up on the harsh streets of the city of Chennai. Eleven-year-old Viji is younger by one year, but Rukku's unspecified developmental delays put Viji in charge of their survival. Seeking shelter on a crumbling bridge, Viji finds two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, who are willing to share what little they have. The four children become a fiercely devoted family, armed with nothing more than resourcefulness and Viji's faith that their fortunes will improve one day. Despite their determination, hunger and sickness eventually take their toll on the children: Viji's hopefulness falters when one of her steadfast promises to Rukku cannot be kept. The sisters' bond provides both the narrative's heart and its structure. Viji writes the novel as if talking to Rukku, words that comfort her just as the fairy tales Viji told every night on the bridge lifted their spirits. Characters grow along with their newfound autonomy; Rukku demonstrates skills overprotective Viji never recognized. Muthi and Arul begin to believe they have a future. Venkatraman's depiction of the streets of Chennai is a sensory experience. Her elegant prose tells a heartfelt, wholly captivating story while encouraging readers to consider larger issues including religion, poverty, and the caste system. VERDICT An unforgettable tale of families lost, found, and moving ahead without leaving those they love behind.—Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.