Rickshaw Girl

Order from Charlesbridge.
Buy it at your local indie.
Here it is at Amazon.
Here's the Audiobook, too!

In production as a film by Sleeperwave and Half Stop Downreleasing in 2020.

Chosen as one of the 100 great children's books of the last 100 years by the New York Public Library.

Published in English, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, French, Bengali, Hindi, and Taiwanese.

Performed as a play by the Bay Area Children's Theater.

In this award-winning novel for readers in grades 2-5 illustrated by Jamie Hogan, Naima must find a way to save her mother's golden bangle -- and fix her father's rickshaw. Booklist said this "lively, moving book has surprises that continue to the end," Kirkus promised that "Naima's story will be relished by students and teachers alike," and the Cooperative Center for Children's Books picked it as a must-read global title for children.

Download a Classroom Discussion Guide.

Want to know why I wrote it? Teaching Books asked me and invited me to read an excerpt in this 3-minute classroom audio.

And here I am reading the first chapter:

French edition
Japanese edition

NYPL's 100 Great Books of the past 100 years
Nominated for the New York Charlotte Children's Book Award
Nominated for the Oklahoma Sequoyah Award
Nominated for the  Rhode Island Children's Book Award
Finalist for France's LivrentĂȘte Prize
Nominated for the South Carolina Children's Book Award
Nominated for the Children's Crown Award
Nominated for the Massachusetts Children's Book Awards
A Jane Addams Honor Book
Maine Library Association Lupine Honor Book
Skipping Stones Magazine Honor Book
ALA Amelia Bloomer Project Award Book
Bank Street Best Children's Books List (Starred)
Boston Author's Club Highly Recommmended Book
A Librarians' Choices Book
An Association of Children's Booksellers Best Book
A CCBC Recommended Book
Bronze Medal, Moonbeam Children's Book Awards
Planet Esme's Best New Children's Book
Nominated for the Cocheco Reader's Award

Check out this book trailer made by a fan:


... In addition to capturing contemporary Bangladeshi culture, Perkins even connects the vibrant plot to the economic model of microfinance -- probably a first for an early chapter book! Black-and-black pastel drawings depict authentic alpana designs and also provide glimpses into Naima's dynamic world, underscoring the novel's accessible message about the intersections of tradition and transformation. — Horn Book

... Mitali Perkins introduces Bangla culture and customs in the context of an appealing, child-centered story that also highlights changing attitudes and times... — Cooperative Children’s Book Center Book of the Week

Scheduled for release in 2018

... Short chapters, well-delineated characters, soft black-line pastel illustrations, and a child-appropriate solution enrich this easy-to-read chapter book that would also appeal to less-able middle school readers... — Susan Hepler, School Library Journal

... A child-eye's view of Bangladesh that makes a strong and accessible statement about heritage, tradition and the changing role of women, Naima's story will be relished by students and teachers alike. (Fiction. 7-10) — Kirkus Reviews

Perkins draws on her family roots to tell the lively contemporary story of a young Bangladeshi girl who challenges the traditional role of women in her village so that she can help her struggling family in hard times. Naima’s parents cannot afford to pay school fees for her anymore, but she wins the village prize for painting the best traditional alpanas patterns. She wishes she could help her father drive his rickshaw, and one day, disguised as a boy, she drive––and crashes––it. How will they afford to fix the dents and tears? More than just a situation, this short chapter book tells a realistic story with surprises that continue until the end. Hogan’s bold black-and-black sketches show the brave girl, the beautiful traditional alpana painting and rickshaw art, and the contemporary changes in the girl’s rural home. An author’s note and a glossary enhance the moving story. — Hazel Rochman, ALA Booklist

Emily Alvarado played Naima in the stage version

...When Naima tries to drive her father's beautiful new rickshaw, disaster ensues, and the family's only source of livelihood is ruined—all Naima's fault for her heedless attempt at helping. While this twist of the story is almost unbearably heartbreaking, Perkins, who was born in India and lived for a while in Bangladesh, manages to make everything come right, as Naima's artistic skills prove unexpectedly valuable, after all. Readers will share in Naima's hopes and disappointments, and will appreciate the love and loyalty of her family, while vicariously experiencing what it is like to live in contemporary Bangladesh in a time of transitioning gender roles. Hogan's accompanying illustrations complement the story effectively and provide accurate renderings of the alpanas Naima loves to paint. — Children's Literature

Strong literature written in an early chapter book format is a rare beastie. Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins therefore manages to be all the stronger when you consider how rare a title it really is. Funny, smart, and chock full of the sights, sounds, and smells of Bangladesh, Perkins offers up a delightful book that distinguishes itself from the pack ... Perkins has the enviable talent of knowing how to connect a reader to a character. There's a spark there. An understanding that takes place. Alongside the believable and consistently interesting storyline, the book comes across as a keeper... Consider this a necessary purchase to any library system, irregardless of collection size. A keeper through and through. — Betsy Bird, Children's Librarian, New York Public Library, A Fuse #8 Production

A real Rickshaw Girl, brave and beautiful

As I read this book over winter break, the shocking thought came over me like a slow-rising sun: "I can't wait to get back to school and read this aloud!" I actually went to the calendar and counted the days before I could introduce children 8 and up to the brave and resourceful (if sometimes impulsive) Naima...This book is beautifully and universally written, playing skillfully on all children's desires to be helpful to their families, and their natural propencities to rally against the unjust. Though there is some regional vocabulary, the writing is so sparkling clear that it can be comprehended in context, though a partially illustrated glossary is also included. Terse pacing makes for a perfectly cliffhanging read-aloud, and descriptive prowess brings every scene to life. Gracefully drawn charcoal spot illustrations that suggest the paper's texture are a perfect accent to the story... — Esme Raji Codell, PlanetEsme

I don't want to give away the ending to Mitali Perkins' charming middle-grade book, but the secret lies in the modernization of Bangladeshi society, more prominent roles for women in village life, and the idea of microfinance providing small loans to village residents. And the end is truly heartwarming and uplifting—I was cheering for Naima's pluck, her friend Saleem's loyalty, and, especially, her father's support of his daughter in a traditional society where the idea of women working outside the home is often greeted with suspicion ... The illustrations by Jamie Hogan are deceptively simple and sketch-like but are just as charming as the story, incorporating some traditional alpana designs. — Readers Rants

Rickshaw Girl reads much like a fairy tale ... or like a legend drawn from Bangladesh, where India-born Mitali Perkins lived for a time and from which her ancestors came. Yet this is a thoroughly modern story, although one set in a part of the world with which most Americans have little familiarity. Like her earlier book, Monsoon Summer, this short novel is about the changing roles of girls and young women in parts of the world still very much bound by tradition ... Rickshaw Girl is simpler and in some ways more charming, with the straightforwardness and exotic setting combining to produce its fairy-tale quality ... Perkins tells it believably, caringly and with sensitivity both to old traditions and to the modern forces that are bringing change, however slowly, to so many parts of the world.— InfoDad