I don’t know if this book really qualifies for MotherReader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge; the books were supposed to be about fifth grade level or above. I’d estimate that the reading and interest level for this book woud be about second or third grade. Nevertheless, I don’t care. I read it, and I loved it. Your little girls (and boys) need to read this book. I’m going to add it to Betsy-Bee’s (age eight) summer reading list. Rickshaw Girl is a great book.
Naima is a ten year old village girl in Bangladesh, and she’s a talented artist. She’s already won one prize for her alpanas, decorative rock paintings. But Naima sees how hard her father works as a rickshaw driver because he has no sons to help him drive the rickshaw. Naima wants to do something to help out, but her ideas are sometimes counter-productive. How can a girl help the family financially when girls are only allowed to “stay home and help their mothers”?
The themes of making mistakes, and being forgiven, and trying to fix your mistakes are universal ones, and at the same time the sense of place in this simple story is strong. Children will get an understanding of what life is like in a small village in another part of the world. And they’ll appreciate the story of how Naima perseveres in her goals even after she has a near-disastrous accident.
The illustrations in the book by artist Jamie Hogan are wonderful, to, and certified as authentic by Mitali’s Bengali mother, Madhusree Bose. It would be fun to read this book aloud and then have the little girls create some of their own alpanas, or an approximation thereof.
For those of you who homeschool and use Sonlight, this book needs to be part of the Kindergarten level emphasis on world cultures. It would make a great read aloud book at that level, or it would be perfectly suited as a reader for second or third graders. In fact, I need to email the people at Sonlight and tell them about Rickshaw Girl. I think they’ll love it.