by Uma Krishnaswami, published 2016
“I know, I know. I’m giving away the ending. But here’s the thing. The point of a story is not the ending. The point is, What does it mean?”
Here’s a really perfect children’s book about a free library, and how reading one small book inspires a little girl to take action. The story, set in a town in India, fully evokes the sights, sounds, and Indian culture, transporting us there effortlessly. However, this children’s book is more than a multi-cultural excursion. It presents in very simple language the importance of speaking up, taking action, and working together to correct an injustice- community activism at its best. In this case, the injustice is that the local free lending library is being shut down. In its own way, this book is also celebrating the utter importance of literacy.
I loved reading this very small children’s book. I couldn’t put it down once I started. It’s a fast and easy read, and I think it would be extremely fun for even a read-aloud. I imagine children from 7 to 9 would thoroughly enjoy it. I suppose the only down side is that I wish problems were as easily solved as they were in this story, but I think the point is to inspire children to try, rather than present the impossibilities. Look at the student walk-outs that happened recently. Why tell them it may not work? Rather, let’s inspire children to have integrity and speak their truth. This children’s book does just that, for younger children. I reviewed a second book by the same author, Naming Maya, but after that, all the books start seeming too formulaic.