Lovely to think of kids in Saipan, Guam, and Palau reading Rickshaw Girl after I read this nice review in Marianas Variety:
RICKSHAW GIRL, by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan (Charlesbridge, 2007). Although this novel is also set in the tropics, it takes place in Bangladesh, with a different sensibility than here in the islands. For the child who likes adventure or different places, this is a good choice.Donna Spurlock of Charlesbridge also informs me that the novel is on the New York Public Library's forthcoming 2007 list of hundred best children's books for reading and sharing. Hooray for good news about a work that's done when you're under deadline for another novel!
Naima is the older daughter, with one little sister, and no brothers. Her father says that he is glad he has girls, but Naima is bound by cultural rules that seem to limit her options. She cannot help her poor father, who drives a rickshaw — a bicycle attached to a passenger cab, used as a taxi. The family’s financial circumstances are revealed in a series of small details that show them on the brink of disaster, with no margin for financial losses of any kind.
Naima is a talented alpanas painter and energetic girl, but she envies her friend, Saleem because he helps his father by alternating the driving of their rickshaw, which gives his father a chance to rest. Naima’s father has faced poor health and seems very tired to Naima, who frets about his long hours and hard work.
Naima comes up with a scheme to fix things, but only causes bigger problems. And the story grows from there, into a fully realized novel in just 78 pages of large, double-spaced type!
Besides the beautiful, full color cover, the text is illustrated inside with line drawings in black on white. These help show the exotic setting and details of the alpanas (decorative-design drawings), as well as bring characters to life.
This is a wonderful book for children gaining confidence with their reading and wanting to branch out from their easy readers. The story is sufficiently deep to be interesting to older children as well. Highly recommended. (Ages 8-14).