From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-Neel's great-uncle often tells stories from India-sometimes of gods such as Hanuman the monkey-but one day he relates his experiences as a child in 1947, "-when India was split in two.-`The country was broken.'" His family walked miles with millions of other refugees to cross the border into India, his mother carrying with her the flowered china cup from which the old man now drinks his tea. When Neel accidentally breaks it, and Chachaji is coincidentally hospitalized, the child tries to cheer his uncle to no avail. After a dream about his great-grandmother and her frightened little boy making their journey, he glues the cup together as best he can, presenting it to a grateful Chachaji. "It wasn't much good for holding tea anymore. But I figured you don't have to be shiny new to hold memories." Neel's voice lends immediacy and a warm family feeling to this graceful story. The simple explanation of the Partition is understandable to young children. The emphasis on the concrete reality of what it means to be a refugee-to have to leave one's home and travel to a new place-will also speak to them. Unfortunately, the illustrations are a drawback. Usingthickly applied paints in vivid colors and done in an expressionistic style, their composition is interesting, even arresting, but the human figures are too often awkwardly amateurish. Given the value of the subject matter, the paucity of picture books featuring Indian characters, and the skill of the telling, however, this would be a worthwhile purchase.Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
K-Gr. 3. In his comfortable home in the U.S., an Indian boy, Neel, hears exciting stories from his great-uncle Chachaji about the Hindu gods and demons. Chachaji also tells of his terrifying childhood journey in 1947, when his country was split into India and Pakistan and his family had to flee across the border, taking with them only what they could. Except for one double-page spread showing the lines of desperate refugees, the story is in the present, focusing on Neel with his uncle and on the treasured teacup that Chachaji always drinks from because his mother (Neel's great-grandmother) brought it with her on that trek across the border, "every step weighed down with sadness." The richly colored paintings, moving close-ups and sweeping overviews, evoke the exuberance and melancholy of the family story. The writer includes a brief historical note about the partition, but readers will want more about that child refugee, even as they are drawn into the rich contemporary scene of the American boy's bond with the uncle who is not quite at home here. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved