Monday, January 27, 2014

For Multicultural Children's Book Day, I suggest Vanished by Sheela Chari (one of my all-time favorites) #MCKlitDay

It's Multicultural Children's Book Day! Don't worry if you weren't aware--I wasn't until the lovely Mia Wenjen (a.k.a. Pragmatic Mom) asked me to join in and feature a multicultural children's book today. So I did. Here's Mia's motivation behind Multicultural Children's Book Day, with some statistics, too. It's important stuff for all of us to consider.

I'll be honest: I agonized over picking the right book... I started by looking at picture books, because those are most likely to show their multiculturalness (is that a word?) on the cover. And there are lovely ones at my local library; we're fortunate that way. But then I felt out of my depth in the picture book department, so I went back to middle-grade, and looked at our bookshelf.

And one book jumped out at me: Vanished by Sheela Chari. It's a few years old, and originally made it on my radar because it was nominated for an Edgar Award in the Best Juvenile category. This book is one of our favorites here at Casa Bradley, and I hope you'll consider it for your kids, school or library. The author does an outstanding job blending mystery and Indian culture, with top-notch middle-grade appeal.

From the Publisher:

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother-intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.

When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, strange clues surface: a tea kettle ornamented with a familiar pointy-faced dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela's instrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. Even if Neela does track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

My Thoughts:

This story felt like a classic middle-grade: the coming of age story, the unique cultural insight, and a mystery to keep the story moving. The author added some notes in the back of the book about the veena and her research--great extra material that I think should put this book with the classics in MG.

I'll add that I think this might be one of my all-time favorite covers...

How about you? Do you have a favorite multicultural children's book to share?


  1. Vanished is a good choice. I enjoyed reading that one, too. I don't have a favorite multicultural children's book, but one I read last year that I found quite fascinating was Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins. It looks at teenage boys who are forced into being soldiers in modern-day Burma/Myanmar.

  2. That sounds like a great book, A.J.--I'll check it out... It seems harder to find multicultural books for older kids.

  3. I feel like a dunce. I hadn't heard of this book until now. #faceplantsdesk I will definitely check it out. I also just wanted to say 'thanks' for the follow on Twitter. I've got you back and also added you to my MG bloggers list.

  4. Oh, I wouldn't feel bad--there are sooooo many books published, it's impossible to keep up... This is one worth reading, though, if you get a chance :-)

    And thanks for the follow, and for stopping by!

  5. Fleur, in spite of being an Indian I don't read Indian authors often and, in fact, I have heard of only a few contemporary writers. I'll, however, look for a copy of Sheela Chari's book as the story sounds very interesting. I wonder if it plays out in South India given its great tradition of classical music and musical instruments.

  6. I hope you get a chance to read it, Prashant. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this books.


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