Thursday, January 24, 2008
Perkins, Mitali. 2007. RICKSHAW GIRL. Ill. by Jamie Hogan. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781580893084 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]
Mitali Perkins’ RICKSHAW GIRL is a chapter book for younger readers that interweaves family dynamics, the principles of microfinance, and the burgeoning power of women in contemporary Bangladesh. Ten-year-old protagonist Naima walks the fine line between childhood and the greater responsibilities and cultural expectations of young adulthood. When Naima’s well-intentioned attempt to help the family income—by dressing as a boy to pilot the family rickshaw—ends in near-disaster, Naima is able to redeem herself with the help of a local woman, who encourages her artistic abilities.
The day-to-day life in a village in modern Bangladesh is presented matter-of-factly, with many details interesting to Western readers regarding meals, transportation, and clothing. Jamie Hogan’s pencil illustrations are simple but help bring the story to life. The author’s note at the end of the book makes it clear that Ms. Perkins is writing truthfully about her own heritage, and clarifies the principles of microfinance that have become so important for development in traditionally underdeveloped countries. This is fictionalized non-fiction at its best, and should appeal to a wide range of intermediate readers.
Look at the illustrations in the book, and then design your own alpana. Display.
Find Bangladesh on a map, and make up a “fun facts” page based on research from an encyclopedia or the Internet.
Other books by Mitali Perkins:
FIRST DAUGHTER: EXTREME AMERICAN MAKEOVER. ISBN 9780525478003
MONSOON SUMMER. ISBN 0803730942
NOT-SO-SPANGLED LIFE OF SUNITA SEN. ISBN 9780316734530
By Julie Brinker