From School Library Journal
Grade 2–5—Ten-year-old Naima longs to earn money to help her poor Bangladeshi family, but her talent in painting traditional patterns, or alpanas, is no use. While considering whether she could disguise herself as a boy and try to drive her father's rickshaw, she wrecks the vehicle and its painted tin sides on a test-drive, threatening the family's sole livelihood. Her solution is to steal away, disguised as a boy, to a repair shop and offer her services painting decorations on the rickshaws. She is surprised to find that the owner is a woman. When Naima reveals herself, she is hired on the condition that her father will keep bringing her for training at the shop, so that her paintings will help the business. The future looks bright for the girl and her family. Short chapters, well-delineated characters, soft black-line pastel illustrations, and a child-appropriate solution enrich this easy-to-read chapter book that would also appeal to less-able middle school readers. The rich back matter includes an informative glossary of Bangla words, plus a valuable author's note that explains the process of microfinance and its results for poor women in rural markets.—Susan Hepler, formerly at Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
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Perkins draws on her family roots to tell the lively contemporary story of a young Bangladeshi girl who challenges the traditional role of women in her village so that she can help her struggling family in hard times. Naima's parents cannot afford to pay school fees for her anymore, but she wins the village prize for painting the best traditional alpana
patterns. She wishes she could help her father drive his rickshaw, and one day, disguised as a boy, she drives--and crashes--it. How will they afford to fix the dents and tears? More than just a situation, this short chapter book tells a realistic story with surprises that continue until the end. Hogan's bold black-and-white sketches show the brave girl, the beautiful traditional alpana
painting and rickshaw art, and the contemporary changes in the girl's rural home. An author's note and a glossary enhance the moving story. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved