Monica Edinger's Reviews > The Grand Plan to Fix Everything

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami
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Jul 25, 2011

really liked it

Eleven-year old Dini adores Bollywood movies, those entertaining Hindi musicals set in India and filled with grand production numbers, adventure, and romance. As summer vacation begins her life is upended when she learns that instead of dance camp with her best friend Maddie she and her parents are heading out across the ocean for a two year-stint in Swampangiri, a small town in India.

While understandably sad, shocked, and surprised Dini is also a trooper and, appreciating how important this opportunity is for her medical researcher mother, works hard to stay upbeat as she adjusts to her new situation. Fortunately despite being far from Mumbai where the Bollywood films are made, Swampangiri turns out to be a place of charm, filled with beauty, delightful people, animals, and tasty treats. It also turns out to have a mystery involving the disappearance of Dini’s favorite Bollywood star, Dolly Singh.

This mystery is tantalizingly developed via multiple viewpoints and forms including letters, texts, emails, and fan magazine items. While Dini’s story stays front and center others are threaded in, say that of a young postal worker who decides to deliver a letter himself far off his usual route and that of an increasingly worried studio executive. Of course, just like a Bollywood film, this story ends happily and joyously.

Young readers will delight in this upbeat and entertaining tale, identifying with Dini as she meets new friends, gets to know her new town, and solve a mystery as well. Along the way they will get a taste of life in one small part of India, complete with monkeys, movie lore, and some absolutely scrumptious-sounding curry pastries.

Teachers might like to pair this charmer with Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game which has a somewhat similar structure and have students consider how both authors build character, suspense, and use coincidence in their story structure. And for those wishing to explore more of the book’s world, author Krisnaswami has created an engaging teacher guide filled with great discussion questions and activities --- personally I’m mighty tempted to try out that curry puff recipe myself!
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03/11 marked as: read

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