Child of Spring

192p. Peachtree. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781561459049.
Gr 3–5—Basanta is a young girl who lives in a typical Indian busti, a community of huts, in modern-day India. Alongside her amma, her mother, she works at the Big House for the memsaab's daughter, Little Bibi. Often, Basanta wonders why it is that Little Bibi is lucky enough to live in a fine house surrounded by fine things while Basanta can only yearn for them. Then, one day, Little Bibi's ring goes missing and Basanta is sure she is suspected of theft! After building up the situation in her head, Basanta is let off the hook when Little Bibi receives a new, even finer ring for her birthday. Although the plot eventually circles back around to the original (found) ring, the novel as a whole focuses on Basanta's capers with the young inhabitants of her busti and how she might be more like Little Bibi than she imagined. Through her interactions with the children who live in the huts beside hers, Basanta comes to find that her family is in a position of satisfaction, never having to go without rice in the pot, and that being able to help others is a reward in and of itself. Although the exact setting is not made explicit through the text and the language peppered into the narrative and dialogue is not immediately identified, context clues and a glossary make clarifying easy.
VERDICT A solid, diverse purchase for middle grade collections.

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