From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5 Three children, Ravi, Sarita, and the baby, have a mysterious uncle who has spent the last two years traveling about and having adventures. Now, however, their father has decided that he needs to settle down, and has invited him to live with their family. Set in contemporary India, the well-paced story is organized into episodic chapters that relate the clever and funny adventures of this unconventional character: rescuing his sister from marrying a man she does not love (Younguncle acts like a maniac and scares off the man's family), tricking pickpockets as a deputy-stationmaster-in-training (their pockets were picked), calming a ghost that lives in a tree. Singh's prose is humorous and delightfully understated: The rest of Younguncle's visit passed quite peacefully, if you don't count the affair of the treacherous moneylender or the great jackal chase, or how Ancient Uncle and Hira came to win a race with a motor-cycle, or…. The book is infused with background details, beginning with the opening paragraph: Now the rain had slowed to a murmur and the lane was empty except for a buffalo, its black hide agleam, standing meditatively under the shi-sham tree on the other side. No doubt readers will clamor for more stories about this zany character. Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
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Gr. 3-5. Set in India, this is a highly episodic, loosely plotted collection of stories about the adventures of a young eccentric whom everybody--even the protagonist's older brother--calls Younguncle. Quick-witted and caring, Younguncle rescues his sister from an arranged marriage, foils the robbery of a tailor's shop, recovers some stolen livestock, and generally makes things hot for unpleasant and wealthy people, of whom there seem to be quite a lot! The chief charm of these low-key stories, for American readers, is in their introduction to Indian culture, family life, lore, and legend. Born in New Delhi, the author now teaches at a college in Massachusetts. Michael Cart
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