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Looking For Bapu Hardcover – October 10, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–Living with working parents in the Seattle area, Anu spends a lot of time with his Indian grandfather. When Bapu has a stroke and later dies, the boy cannot let go of his guilt or his wish to stay connected. Then Auntie Biku visits from India, bringing a video of the sadhus, or holy men, and Anu is inspired to become one of them so that he can maintain his contact with Bapu. His adaptation of mystical ways, such as trying to roll to school, copying the sadhu who is said to have rolled thousands of miles, adds spice and humor to the story. Anu remains thoroughly American even as his roots in his Eastern tradition and culture are strong. The post-September 11th setting realistically reveals the stereotypes and bias confronting the protagonist's family and friends without being overbearing. A visit to a mystery museum brings the story to a satisfying conclusion. While many readers will see this novel as a window to a culture they know little about, the real value to most collections will be in providing Indian Americans with a chance to see themselves and their culture affirmed.–Carol A. Edwards, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO
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From Booklist

When his grandfather Bapu suffers a stroke, eight-year-old Anu runs for help, but his grandfather dies in the hospital. Grief-stricken, Anu remembers Bapu's daily Hindu rituals and shared moments, and he continues to see Bapu in dreams and visions. As these fade, Anu tries to reconnect with Bapu through a variety of imaginative strategies, including a hilarious attempt to become a sadhu or holy man. His friendships with classmate Unger and neighbor Izzy also add humorous elements that lighten the tone and move the plot. But there are more serious moments as well. Set in Seattle shortly after 9/11, Anu's narrative records incidents of prejudice, as when one emergency worker refers to him as "a little Islam." With episodes that ring true to a boy's perspective, Banerjee's novel provides discussable issues and multicultural insights as well as humor and emotion. An excellent read aloud and a fine title for libraries serving East Indian communities. Linda Perkins
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books; First Edition edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385746571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385746571
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,567,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anjali Banerjee was born in India, raised in Canada and California and received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her books have received accolades in many review journals and newspapers. The Philadelphia Inquirer called her young adult novel, Maya Running (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House) "beautiful and complex" and "pleasingly accessible." The Seattle Times praised Anjali's novel for adults, Imaginary Men (Downtown Press/Pocket Books) as "a romantic comedy equal to Bend it Like Beckham."

Anjali has always loved to write. When she was seven, she penned her first story about an abandoned puppy on a beach in Bengal. Then, inspired by her maternal grandmother--an English writer who lived in India--she wrote a mystery, The Green Secret, at the age of nine. She illustrated the book, stapled the pages together and pasted a copyright notice inside the front cover. After that she churned out a series of mysteries and adventure novels with preposterous premises and impossible plots.

Growing up in a small town in Manitoba, Canada, Anjali's favorite family event was the weekly drive to the garbage dump to watch for bears. She also loved jaunts to the library, where she checked out the same Curious George books dozens of times. She adored a picture book called The Bear Who Couldn't Sleep, starring a baby bear who refused to hibernate in winter. Her favorite authors were Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Alexander Key, C.S. Lewis and others. Every night her father read to her from C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia or Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

After she grew up and finished university, Anjali tried on jobs like new sets of clothes--veterinary assistant, office manager and law student--before rediscovering her love for writing. Since then, Anjali's Pushcart Prize-nominated short fiction has appeared in several literary journals and in the anthology New to North America. She was a contributing writer for three regional history books and local newspapers before she began writing novels. An alumnus of Hedgebrook, an esteemed retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island, Anjali has been a speaker at the South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival (SALTAF®) at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., at many schools, libraries and writers' conferences, and she has led workshops for Field's End and the Whidbey Island Writers' Association MFA program.

Anjali loves hiking, reading, watching movies, supporting local animal welfare organizations, feeding birds, and playing piano. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, in a cottage in the woods, with her husband and four rescued cats.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm forever attempting to sniff out interesting trends in children's fiction. This year, the trend seems to be hinging on how children's books respond to a post-9/11 world. We've seen stories where characters' parents are sent to Iraq ("The Homework Machine" by Dan Gutman) and stories that take a critical stance against McCarthyism in the past ("The Loud Silence of Francine Green", by Karen Cushman). What we haven't seen much of, however, was a point of view that wasn't whitey white white. Now we have, "Looking For Bapu", and all that has changed. In a story that takes place mere days and weeks after the World Trade Towers collapsed, author Anjali Banerjee brings us the kind of book that we need a helluva lot more of in our libraries and bookstores. A well-written tale from the point of view of a kid who isn't WASPy.

Apu and his grandfather Bapu have always been especially close. Ever since Bapu immigrated to America from his native India the two have been like peas in a pod. Imagine the eight-year-old boy's horror, then, when Bapu has a stroke right in front of his eyes while the two are watching for birds. Anu is beyond distraught. He keeps having little visions of his grandfather watching over him. By this Anu believes that Bapu doesn't want to leave, so he's going to do everything in his power to bring him back. This might mean becoming a holy roller or an enlightened being. It might mean employing the help of his friends Izzy (a homeschooler) and Unger (money-obsessed). Whatever it means, Anu is going to find an answer to his dilemma, and he's going to do so in the way that works best for him, be it magic, evoking the gods, or shaving off all his hair before class pictures.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Anjoli Banerjee's LOOKING FOR BAPU tells of an Indian grandfather who's brought India's culture to grandson Anu who lives in the Pacific Northwest. Anu is lost - until he decides to search for his grandfather's spirit and enlists in loyal friends to help bring back his beloved grandfather. A delightful story of cross-cultural interaction evolves.
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By L. Fannon on March 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
I don't know where I found Looking for Bapu the first time. The cover is absolutely beautiful, but I knew nothing about the story (in fact, I'll admit, I wasn't even sure what a Bapu was). I joined the South Asian Author Challenge knowing that I wanted to read more books written by and about South Asian people, so somewhere in my research for books I found this delightful MG novel about Anu, an 8-year-old boy whose grandfather (bapu) has a massive stroke a few weeks after September 11. Looking for Bapu is a masterful combination of grief and humor that transcends ages to be, not only a delightful novel, but also a resource for children as well as adults.

Anu, with the help of his friends Unger, Izzy and Andy does everything he can think of to bring Bapu back. Anu prays to the gods, tries to become a holy man and visits a fortune teller, but of course, nothing really works. Anyone who has lost someone suddenly can understand Anu; reading this book brought me right back to when I lost my own grandmother and all the strange things I did right after. This novel does wonders to express the universality of grief and loss, without ever losing sight of Anu's unique experience.

This novel subtly handles many aspects of being a young child, of feeling powerless and curious and silly. Anu deals with racism, being called Osama Bin Laden by one of his classmates, but finds that most people are just as confused and scared as he is. Andy, one of Anu's classmates, has cancer and there is a really wonderful scene between the two boys. Izzy and Unger are perfect friends, bringing quirkiness and warmth to the story.

Ultimately, grief is universal, and that is the point of Looking for Bapu.
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By R. Ranson on January 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I gave this book to my daughter when she was nine and she really enjoyed it. Banerjee takes a situation that many kids experience (the death of a grandparent) and weaves it into a hopeful and often witty story of self-discovery, with an Indian flavor. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I received this book by accident, and am so glad I did. The story is very well written, magical and heartbreaking. The characters are so real, and the pain of the family in the loss of the grandfather (no, not giving away anything here) is tender and heartfelt.
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