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Rickshaw Girl Hardcover – February 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge; First edition (January 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580893082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580893084
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write novels for young readers, speak at conferences, schools, and libraries, and chat about writing, books, and life between cultures. Visit me on Mitali's Fire Escape ( or track me at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Consider the reading levels a child goes through. You start them out on baby board books. Slooowly you start reading them picture books. Once they've a grasp on that then they start reading on their own with easy readers. A couple years in and it's time to move on to early chapter books. Finally, and with great relief all around, they're reading thick 500-page fantasy novels and everyone is happy. Now which one of those reading levels is, to your mind, the most difficult to find? Which is to say, which reading level seriously lacks in the quality-writing-department when all is said and done? My answer would have to be the early chapter books. Picture and baby board books are a dime a dozen and if you doubt the sheer quantity of easy readers out there, come on down to my library sometime. No, it's early chapter books I worry about. Around this time you want to start luring the kids with writing that's a little more sophisticated. Sure, you could hand them #43 in the Droon series and be done with it, but wouldn't you like to hand them a fun book that talks about other cultures and features sympathetic characters and realistic concerns? Basically what I'm saying is, strong literature written in an early chapter book format is a rare beastie. "Rickshaw Girl", by Mitali Perkins therefore manages to be all he stronger when you consider how rare a title it really is. Funny, smart, and chock full of the sights, sounds, and smells of Bangladesh, Perkins offers up a delightful book that distinguishes itself from the pack.

Ask Naima the one thing she's good at doing and she'll tell you right off the bat that it's alpanas.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kris Bordessa on June 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There is a dearth of books for kids who are just taking off with their reading skills, which makes this story all the more welcome. Readers will meet Naima, a young Bangladeshi who is struggling with her family's financial troubles and her place in the family as a girl. Traditionally, girls are not allowed to work or earn money, but her father sure could use the help. Naima cleverly devises a way to help her family and empowers herself along the way.

Set in Bangladesh, readers will get a glimpse of life in a foreign land and a culture quite different from the American standard. With Bangla words interspersed in the text, readers are introduced to a new language, as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on August 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
Stifled by Bangladeshi social norms that restricted her ability to engage in the community and work for pay, Naima felt frustrated that she could not earn money to help her family. Without enough money to pay for school fees, her parents had already withdrawn Naima from school, and now her younger sister faced the same fate. Her father had to work from dawn until midnight everyday as a rickshaw driver to generate enough earnings to also cover the loan payments on his new rickshaw.

These pressures, combined with her creativity, audacity, and cleverness, led Naima to decide that she would disguise herself as a boy and earn money by driving the rickshaw. Her first attempt to operate the vehicle would have marked an adventurous first step in this bold plan were it not for the long hill, sharp curve, and thick thorn bushes. Naima escaped unharmed, but Father's brand new rickshaw was badly damaged. Naima is devastated, and quite some time passes before she comes up with a new plan that better utilizes her talents.

Rickshaw Girl gets top ratings for delivering an entertaining story that is chock full of valuable economics lessons. The reader experiences a poignant account of the challenges associated with living in poverty in a country where traditional customs still limit women's economic and social opportunities. Also woven in are lessons about entrepreneurship, the need for financial capital to start a business, and the importance of microfinance for individuals - such as the woman who owned the rickshaw repair shop - who otherwise may not have been able to secure a loan. Weighty issues perhaps, but most children will be enthralled by the plight of a spunky girl who damages her father's most valuable possession and needs to make amends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gina Bertaina on November 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I thought that "Rickshaw Girl" was a good book for girls around ten years old. I am a ten year old girl and while reading this book I found it rather interesting. I barely could put it down. I finished it in about an hour, since it was such a good book. I think the main character in the book (Naima) showed lots of expression as the oldest child. She did a lot of work for her family as well as she also wanted to help her family. She knew her family had struggles and I think she wanted to find a solution for her poor family. This book is full of character, expression and interest. I reccomend this for young girls ages ten to four-teen. It was really good book. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, the beginning, and the end. I don't have the kindle version but I do have the real paper-back version and I am very pleased. The book was a very well-written book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Surplus Sunshine on July 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
Mitali Perkins is a gifted story teller, Rickshaw girl is an important tome to dig deeper into Asian culture. As a grade six geography and language arts teacher it is a wonderful tool to dig deeper into the curriculum. Boys and girls, both enjoyed this story and made great connections and inferences. It is a story to be read again and again. It is without hesitation that I recommend this book for any classroom library. Mitali Perkins also will make school visits and lead the children in a wonderful writer's workshop! She is as brilliant as her books!
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