Published by Nancy Paulsen Books
Summary: Vijji tells Rukku the story of their lives: how Vijji had always taken care of the developmentally disabled Rukku even though Rukku was the older sister. How Vijji decided they had to run away the night their father beat them instead of their mother. How they found a new home under a bridge with two boys, Muthi and Arul, who showed them how to make money ragpicking and became like family to them. Although the four lived in miserable poverty, they managed to have good times together until Rukku and Muthi got sick from malnutrition, bad water, and mosquito-borne disease. A chance encounter with a woman running a home for street children gave Vijji opportunities she never dreamed she would have had, and, despite tragedy, she learns to move ahead with hope. Includes an author’s note with additional information about her personal experiences with homeless children in India. 208 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: I’m guessing this beautifully-written story will be considered for some award next January. Readers will learn about the plight of countless children in India while getting to know some unforgettable characters.
Cons (spoiler alert): With Eventown and Right As Rain, this makes the third book I’ve read in the span of a few weeks that deals with a child grieving the loss of a sibling. I am ready for something a bit lighter.