Author Showcase: Saraswati’s Way by Monika Schröder
By Monika Schröder, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: November 10, 2010
Frances Foster Books, 11/9/2010
Grade Range: 5 to 8
Age Range: 10 to 14
5 1/2 X x 8 1/4 inches
12-year old Akash from the northern India state of Rajasthan, loves math. Numbers line up in his head easily, arrange themselves in patterns, and move in formations. In order to develop his gift for numbers Akash wants to go to a good school in the city. But Akash’s family is poor and doesn’t understand his longing for learning. He prays to the Hindu gods Ganesh and Saraswati for help. When circumstances become so dire that his dream seems forever unattainable he runs away and jumps on a train. He ends up in the New Delhi train station, where he joins a gang of street kids who scavenge trains for food and earn a few rupees selling empty water bottles. After a desperate attempt to make quick money for a tutor by dealing drugs Akash finds the support of a kind bookstall owner and learns that Saraswati will only help him if he deserves it.
SARASWATI’S WAY paints an accurate portrait of the realities of street kids in the Indian capital. Young readers in the US will have no trouble identifying with Akash and relating to the book’s inspiring message about holding on to one’s dream. The book offers ample material for classroom discussions, provides a perfect tie-in for many topics in the social studies curriculum, and is an asset for librarians who want to add an exciting and hopeful read to their multicultural collection.
“With skillfully integrated cultural details (further explained in an appended glossary and author’s note) and a fully realized child’s story, Schröder presents a view, sobering and inspiring, of remarkably resilient young people surviving poverty without losing themselves” -BOOKLIST, December 2010
“This rare combination of math and culture is a boon for discussions and makes this stand out” – KIRKUS REVIEW, October 15, 2010
Advance Praise for Saraswati’s Way
“I love everything about this book. Its depictions of a dusty Indian village, an exotic Indian festival, fantastical stories of Hindu deities, and a boy’s fascination with the mysticism of numbers are truths unto themselves.”
Suzanne Fisher Staples, Newbery Honor author of Under the Persimmon Tree
“Like its protagonist, Saraswati’s Way is clear-eyed, open-hearted, and filled with hope. And it even makes a fine case for the pleasure of math! I was transported.”
Paul O. Zelinsky, author/illustrator of the Caldecott Medal Book Rapunzel
About the author: Monika Schröder is the elementary school librarian at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India. To learn more about her visit Monika’s website at: www.monikaschroeder.com
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