Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Child of Spring

Child of Spring

Spring 2016 Fiction
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Author: Farhana Zia
ISBN: 978-1561459049
Hardcover Price: $16.95

Basanta remembers being told by her grandmother that her birth was celebrated with singing and hand-clapping and joy, but no gifts. According to her grandmother, songs and joy are the best kinds of gifts, but Basanta knows better. All day, Basanta works at the Big House with her Amma, for spoiled Little Bibi and her mother the Memsaab, fetching drinks and cleaning and doing tasks for which she receives little thanks or acknowledgement; in the meantime, Little Bibi gets beautiful rings and birthday parties with lovely cakes, parties to which Basanta is never invited. Basanta longs for Bibi's ring, and for her easy life. When she finds the ring while cleaning one day, she decides to keep it, but she has trouble keeping her secret to herself. Pretty soon, she finds herself entangled by a chain of boasts and lies that endanger her friendship with her dearest friend Lali and create trouble between the two village rascals and her friend Bala. Basanta must figure out to fix the messes she has made, and to curb her impulsive storytelling.

The title Child of Spring might lead the reader to expect an idealized, pastoral, lyrical story featuring a heroine that brings light and hope into sad places. Instead, Basanta is a bit like a 'tween Indian version of Ramona the Pest. She is smart, impulsive, exasperating, and eminently lovable. While the plot maintains a loose arc based on Basanta's desire for Bibi's ring, the book is relatively episodic, focusing more on the quarrels and politics and schemes of the children in the village than it does on the injustices between the wealth and privilege of the Big House residents and the struggles of the busti at the bottom of the hill. In this way, Zia raises issues of inequality, while still allowing the child characters to have inner lives, stories, and plans that do not revolve around the wealthy. Young readers will find plenty to enjoy in this new novel, which combines funny sequences, a likeable range of characters, and substantive ideas for discussion.

Naomi Lesley   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

Look for this product at:
Peachtree Publishers

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