Born Behind Bars

Listening Library. Sept. 2021. 438p. $38. ISBN 9780593454404.
Gr 5-8–Kabir was born in a Chennai jail. He’s never met his dad, and his mom is doing time for a crime she didn’t commit. Then a new warden arrives, and Kabir is told that he is too old to live in the jail. Sent to live with his uncle—a man who turns out to be a fraud who intends to sell the boy—Kabir escapes and finds himself living on the streets. He meets Rani, a street kid with a parrot. Rani teaches him the rules of the streets. But Kabir still wants to find his dad and rescue his mom from her unfair imprisonment. Will he succeed? Narrating her own book, Venkatraman brings to life her beautifully written tale with endearing characters. Her narrative and writing styles work well together to bring listeners into Kabir’s world. The plot is well developed and charming. Themes of hope and idealism will tug at listeners’ heartstrings.
VERDICT A must-listen for middle grade listeners who enjoy realistic fiction. Recommended for any library collection.

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