Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami [in Shelf Awareness]
Just after turning 8, Yasmin Kader set a goal to “to read one book every day. Every single day, forever.” She’s already up to more than 400, thanks to after-school detours to Book Uncle’s Lending Library, a street-corner pop-up made of planks piled high with books. A faded sign beckons all: “Books. Free. Give One. Take One. Read-read-read.” Book Uncle – a retired teacher sharing his love of literature – always greets Yasmin, his “Number One Patron,” with a perfect choice: “Right book for the right person for the right day.” Yasmin knows Book Uncle’s library is unsurpassed in all of India.
Beyond literary pursuits, life for the highly energetic, slightly sassy, occasionally impulsive Yasmin has plenty of drama involving family and friends that middle-grade readers everywhere will recognize. To Yasmin’s sincere dismay, she’s annoyed her BFF into silence, she’s entangled in her parents’ panic over her father’s overbearing brother’s visit, and now the whole town is watching the upcoming mayoral election. When Yasmin learns that incumbent Mayor S.L.Y. has a selfish agenda to shut down Book Uncle, she rallies everyone she knows to make things right.
In Book Uncle and Me, the internationally lauded, New Delhi-born Uma Krishnaswami infuses her universal story of underdog justice with vivid elements of her Indian heritage, including “flip-floppy chappals,” the “istri lady” who irons for customers, and descriptions of the best coconutty puttu, along with other tempting local fare. In this celebratory homage to reading – heightened by Julianne Swaney’s charming illustrations – Krishnaswami adroitly inserts memorable lessons on politics, leadership, government processes, grassroots activism, and the importance of every single vote.
Discover: Uma Krishnaswami skillfully mixes family, friendship, the power of good books and grassroots activism in this engaging middle-grade novel set in India.
Readers: Middle Grade