MISSION MUMBAI by Mahtab Narsimhan is an unexpected and powerful addition to middle grade novels. The story of two boys, it is told frReview for YABC
MISSION MUMBAI by Mahtab Narsimhan is an unexpected and powerful addition to middle grade novels. The story of two boys, it is told from the POV of a white American kid named Dylan Moore. Dylan is, on the surface, the envy of his best friend, Rohit Lal. Dylan's family is privileged and have everything money can buy. Rohit comes from a middle-class family from Mumbai. He's been studying New York, and everything was made possible by the strings-attached funds of his Aunty Anjali. When Rohit returns to India for his cousin's wedding, Dylan comes along for the ride. What Rohit doesn't know is that Dylan's life isn't as perfect as it seems. Dylan might have wealth and comfort, but his parents are going through a difficult patch with talks of separation. Dylan's mother is cold. Dylan's father is a hard man who wants his son to be something he's not. He wants Dylan to be a jock. Meanwhile, Dylan is a reader who loves fantasy worlds like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. He loves photography and is a truly loyal friend. Still, Dylan doesn't feel the love from his parents and loves being with the Lal family.
What I loved: MISSION MUMBAI is a novel with layers. It's a novel about summer travel, and exploring an exotic new world. It's a novel about friendship and family. But it also deals with body image issues in a delicate way. Dylan says he loves two things: photography and food. He tries all of the foods he's given, no matter how strange they are to him. Then, he'll think about what his father wants him to look like or what he should look like, and he'll do jumping jacks or want to walk an extra few minutes in the hot Mumbai sun. It's heartbreaking, but Dylan maintains an upbeat and positive outlook on life and the trip.
Friendship is one of this highlighted themes in MISSION MUMBAI. Narsimhan pairs two boys from opposite worlds, cultures, and social backgrounds. She gives them a friendship that is bound by their love of fantasy and nerdom. Their friendship is put to the test as Dylan dives into life in India, while Rohit rejects his culture. He wants American things--soda, burgers, pizza, TV. Dylan wants samosas, mango lassis, and Bollywood movies. They're each in possession of something the other wants. Rohit wants money because he believes that'll solve his family's woes. Dylan wants the love and unity of Rohit's family. Their bond is severely tested throughout the book, but they're a pair to root for. Together they get into a LOT of trouble, but they come out stronger in the end.
Mahtab Narsimhan tells a story of India from a foreigner's point of view instead of a native. Had the book been told from Rohit's point of view, the book would have been completely different. Indeed, Rohit is painted as a kid who has been spoiled by American culture. He wants to go back to New York. He wants to explore America. He's already lived in India, and so nothing is new to him. Because we see India from Dylan's point of view, we get to experience it from a new lens. Dylan messes up a lot when dealing with life in India. He isn't accustomed to some social boundaries, and nearly gets mauled by a mob when he tries to push a cow out of a blocked road. There's a learning curve for him, and for the reader who might not know anything about Indian culture.
Verdict: MISSION MUMBAI by Mahtab Narsimhan is a fun and exciting exploration of family, friendship, and life in Mumbai. It will have you laughing and crying while rooting for the Fellowship of Dylan and Rohit.
THE BLOBFISH BOOK by Jessica Olien is unlike any picture book I've read. Combining real data, photos of deep sea marine life, and comedic illustrationTHE BLOBFISH BOOK by Jessica Olien is unlike any picture book I've read. Combining real data, photos of deep sea marine life, and comedic illustration, the book creates a conversation between reader...and Blobfish himself.
From page one, Blobfish interrupts the book by crossing out "Deep Sea" in The Deep Sea Book, and replacing it with "The Blobfish Book." He then introduces himself. "Hi, I'm blobfish!" It'll make any kid reading this book giggle at Blobfish's antics. He wants to be seen because he is the star of this book. At least, in his mind he is. Every page has a photograph and details about the deep sea world. The facts range from the zones of the ocean to other creatures that live in the deep sea. We get viperfish and jellyfish, and jewel squid. Blobfish is there on every page, anxious and excited (and bored), waiting for the book to get to the information page on the blobfish!
When it does happen, Blobfish has a terrible realization. He finds out that the blobfish "was once voted the world's ugliest animal." Blobfish is hurt and ugly-cries because everyone thinks he's ugly. All of the creatures that come together to make Blobfish feel better. They talk about some of their own features that seem ugly or scary to others.
The Blobfish Book is equal parts informative and laugh-out-loud funny. It has a strong undercurrent (no pun intended) of the power of friendship and teaches the valuable lesson: don't judge others by their appearance....more
Reviewed for YABookscentral.com ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN is a a new adaption of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Using a similar rhyming parterReviewed for YABookscentral.com ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN is a a new adaption of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Using a similar rhyming partern, the reader follows a little girl as she goes through her first twelve days of kindergarten. Though the rhyming feels a tad forced, each day brings a new and exciting day of kindergaten.
The story follows an unnamed character, and slowly brings on class full of children. Each child is allowed a different expression. They are ethnically diverse, and each kid has his or her own personality. Hughes's illustrations allow for some kid to participate, some shy, and some scared of the the first few days of school. This range gives it an honest feel, which will speak to a variety of children and their parents. The different activities like sports, art, reading, and gym bring a social aspect to the book. It shows that kindergarten can be fun.
Perfect for younger readers getting ready to start their first days of school. ...more
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree is a whimsical story of a very clever boy who gets eaten by a snake.
The boy is out and about when a snake gobbles him up. The boy does not panic. Instead, he devises a plan to get himself free. That involves having the snake eat many other creatures. One by one, the snake eats creatures in the jungle near the eucalyptus tree. The boy keeps egging the snake to keep eating. Meanwhile, the snake gets so full he can't eat another bite. The boy's plan has worked.
David Bernstrom creates a wonderful new story. It features a sweet, beautiful brown boy. At the end of the day, it could be any boy on a wild adventure. The story feels familiar, like The Jungle Book with very modern twist.
The artwork by Brendan Wenzel helps set a classic folktale mood. The dark images set in the belly of the snake are contrasted by the bright pops of color in the jungle.
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree is a great new addition to any library. ...more