Book Uncle and Me

illus. by Julianna Swaney. 152p. Groundwood. Sept. 2016. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781554988082; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781554988105.
RedReviewStarGr 2–4—Nine-year-old Yasmin is a self described book-a-day reader. Every day after school she likes to stop by Book Uncle's lending library on the corner by her apartment complex. Book Uncle has been on the corner as long as Yasmin can remember, and his motto of "Right book for the right person for the right day" hasn't steered her wrong yet, though she finds herself second-guessing his latest recommendation, which seems too easy. Yasmin has a misunderstanding with her friends Reeni and Anil, who do not seem to understand her love for reading and her questions about this particular story. Meanwhile, the local mayoral election has everyone in the city excited—partly because a famous actor is running. When Yasmin goes back to see Book Uncle, she is perplexed to find him boxing up all of his wares. It seems that he has been issued a summons and told he needs a permit in order to keep operating his lending library. Unfortunately, he cannot afford a permit. What follows is Yasmin's social awakening. The neighbors she has noticed only in passing before become allies in her grassroots effort to get Book Uncle back in business.
VERDICT This sweet slice-of-life tale not only highlights Yasmin's neighborhood and life in India but also demonstrates that children can be empowered to effect change in their own neighborhoods. This is also a perfect title to shine a light on elections taking place elsewhere.

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