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The Grand Plan to Fix Everything Paperback – February 19, 2013
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Hooray for Bollywood. Eleven-year-old Dini is not pleased at all at the prospect of leaving Takoma Park, Md., and her best friend Maddie to live in a small town in southern India for two years. But though she knows it’s ridiculous, bakvaas, as Indians say, she wonders if she might get to meet her idol, Dolly Singh, Bollywood film star. Dini and Maddie are devoted Dolly fans. And, in a series of events as wonderfully convoluted and satisfyingly resolved as any movie plot could be, she does. The fast-paced tale introduces and manages to connect an Indian-American family, a postal worker from Mumbai, a movie producer and his erratic star, a car mechanic, a tea plantation owner, a local baker and assorted monkeys—all coming together for a grand finale party and dance. Set in imagined Swapnagiri (which means Dream Mountain), this high-energy concoction is thoroughly believable and entertaining. The story is told in a third-person present-tense voice that rings true to its protagonist, who sees her life as a movie script. Though Dini and Maddie are halfway around the world from each other, they communicate through cell phones and computer chat, keeping up their friendship while making new ones. Full of references to Bollywood movie traditions and local customs, this is a delightful romp with a fresh setting and a distinctive and appealing main character. - KIRKUS, April 1, 2011, *STAR
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything
Written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Abigail Halpin
(Atheneum, ISBN: 9781416995890; May 2011; Summer catalog p. 53)
Krishnaswami perfectly captures movie-star infatuation, best-friendship, geographical displacement, and youthful determination in this exuberant blend of American tween life and Indian village culture. When 11-year-old Dini's physician mother gets a grant to work at a clinic in the tiny village of Swapnagiri in India, Dini is plucked out of her contented life in suburban Maryland. Distraught about abandoning her BFF Maddie--who truly understands Dini's passion for Indian movie-star Dolly Singh--and their plans to attend Bollywood dance camp, she nevertheless remains optimistic as she tries to plot her new life, and those of the people she meets, as a screenplay. Krishnaswami (Naming Maya) interlaces Dini's story with lighthearted portrayals of the Indian film industry and postal system; she neatly and satisfactorily resolves every dilemma, suggesting elements of magic ("[W]hen you are moving... to a place whose name means ‘dream mountain,' your mind begins to open up in strange ways") while remaining firmly grounded in reality. An out-of-the-ordinary setting, a distinctive middle-grade character with an unusual passion, and the pace of a lively Bollywood "fillum" make this novel a delight.
--Publishers Weekly, April 4, 2011, *STAR
Told with wit, whimsy, and much heart, this engaging story features a charming protagonist; colorfully drawn side characters; and a lively, vibrant narrative that descriptively details Indian culture, settings, daily life, and Bollywood movies.
--Booklist, September 1, 2011
About the Author
Uma Krishnaswami is the author of several books for children. She was born in New Delhi, India, and now lives in Aztec, New Mexico.
Abigail Halpin is an illustrator/graphic designer living in New England who likes bright colors, all things retro, and sharp pencils.
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Top Customer Reviews
Now, what did I LOVE about The Gran Plan to Fix Everything ?
First, the obvious : it is lovingly written and crafted, it is funny in a tongue-in-cheek way (the author mentioned somewhere being inspired by P.G. Woodhouse), it is a breath of fresh mountain air carrying the fragrance of blue flowers, and some goat smells, too.
The fusion quality : Dini's parents are Indian, but she's growing up in the US. Dini's BFF is American, and she is as much a fan of Bollywood movies as Dini is. Emails, phone calls, and video computer calls allow both girls to remain in touch. Dini soon meets another girl named Priya whose parents are in Washington DC, but will soon be going to Chile, and then Haiti. This is the kind of world where people from different walks of life, different countries and cultures, all learn from each other. Oh, one last thing : we also get to "taste" curry puffs with a touch of chocolate, and dark chocolate scented with rose petals !
Uma Krishnaswami, being of Indian origin, puts her own stamp on the English language, and I'm not talking syntax or grammar, here, but music, and a unique way of stringing words together. You can see this is someone who loves the picture book medium and studied it extensively. Her language literally sings and dances and follows some of the cadences of the Hindi and Tamil languages that she speaks, as well as English. Dini look-looks, and listen-listens, for instance, and a few Hindi words and sentences are woven into the story without any of the heavy-handedness that you sometimes get when authors use foreign words and then proceed to translate them, almost in the same breath.
As a writer, I loved all the references to plots and plotting, and how Dini, a true movie-buff, sees life through the eyes of a budding writer. Everything translates in terms of scenes, the place of the actors/characters in them, plots and their inevitable twists... The author and her heroine must have a lot in common, I bet.
I also loved how parent/child, and adult/child relationships are described. It is refreshing - and a little cringe-inducing, also. Refreshing because you, the adult (OK, me, the adult) are suddenly reminded of the way you were at that age, and how some of your thought-process went just like Dini's. The cringe comes from the sad realization that you need someone as talented as Uma Krishnaswami to channel the authentic voice and feelings of that child who got somewhat lost when you took on the role of parent.
Which is probably why I so love reading, and writing for children, and I think all adults should continue to read some kids literature, at least from time to time.
I'll end up this long review by saying that I will now wait for the movie version of this book. Come on, filmi people out there ! Whether you're in the US or in India, this book has all the necessary ingredients to make a perfect family movie - complete with songs, and dance numbers, if you please !
"The book, `The Grand Plan to Fix Everything" by Uma Krishnaswami was a funny book.
"Eleven-year-old Dini loves movies: making movies, watching movies with her best friend Maggie and especially Dolly Singh movies. So when she finds out she is going to India in the middle of the school year, she thinks she will finally be able to meet Dolly. Then she finds out that she is moving into a teeny tiny village in India called `Dreamy Mountain' for two years. It is upsetting to say the least. But will Dini find a way to make her life better? From actually meet Dolly herself to close encounters with wild monkeys to curry puffs to singing cars and chirping girls, this is a book you will never forget.
"My favorite character was Dini. She is really funny and really cares about her friends. I also liked how Dini wrote her essay in school like a movie script and talked about how she wants to change the world.
"My favorite part of the book was when the news reporter took a picture of the monkeys posing with the cake at Dini's party. It was really funny!
"I also liked how the book had not only Dini's point of view but the view-points of Lal the mail man, the director and Dolly herself. It was a really cute book and I would definitely recommend it to my friends.
"I would give the book five stars: two for the illustrations, two for the plot and one for the characters. It was a great book."
I love so many things about this book--the setting, the language, the characters, and the vibrant descriptions all made this whimsical story stand out and the pages fly by too quickly. Coincidence and serendipity play a nice role in how the plot unfolds, and I enjoyed how the points of view rotated through a couple of secondary characters, but for the most part the story stayed with Dini, who is a charming and entertaining protagonist. Her discovery of Swapnagiri and trials in making friends, in between Bollywood references and emails to Maddie, are alternatively fun and challenging for Dini, but she ultimately learns the importance of being observant and learning how to problem-solve, and when to listen and when to take a step back and not meddle. The Grand Plan to Fix Everything is a heartfelt and delightful book with a nice little mystery to unravel, and readers will find it difficult to resist Dini's enthusiasm and charisma.
Cover Comments: I love this cover so much. The vibrant colors fit the story so well, and the picture winds around on the back cover to include a map of the US and Maddie as well. Very nice!