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by Mitali Perkins

illustrated by Jamie Hogan


Lexile Score: 730

School Library Journal:

Gr 2–5—Ten-year-old Naima longs to earn money to help her poor Bangladeshi family, but her talent in painting traditional patterns, or alpanas, is no use. While considering whether she could disguise herself as a boy and try to drive her father’s rickshaw, she wrecks the vehicle and its painted tin sides on a test-drive, threatening the family’s sole livelihood. Her solution is to steal away, disguised as a boy, to a repair shop and offer her services painting decorations on the rickshaws. She is surprised to find that the owner is a woman. When Naima reveals herself, she is hired on the condition that her father will keep bringing her for training at the shop, so that her paintings will help the business. The future looks bright for the girl and her family. Short chapters, well-delineated characters, soft black-line pastel illustrations, and a child-appropriate solution enrich this easy-to-read chapter book  that would also appeal to less-able middle school readers. The rich back matter includes an informative glossary of Bangla words, plus a valuable author’s note that explains the process of microfinance and its results for poor women in rural markets.—Susan Hepler, formerly at Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA –Susan Hepler (Reviewed April 1, 2007) (School Library Journal, vol 53, issue 4, p115)


  • Amelia Bloomer Lists – Middle Grades Fiction: 2008


2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Ages 9-12, Family, Women's Rights