The Grand Plan to Fix Everything

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Overview

Rose petal milk shakes and a world of surprises awaits Dini when her family moves to India in this spirited novel with Bollywood flair.

Eleven-year old Dini loves movies—watching them, reading about them, trying to write her own—especially those oh-so-fabulous Bollywood movies where you don’t need to know the language to get what’s going on. But when her mother reveals some big news, it does not at all jibe with the script Dini had in mind. Her family is moving to India. And not...

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The Grand Plan to Fix Everything

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Overview

Rose petal milk shakes and a world of surprises awaits Dini when her family moves to India in this spirited novel with Bollywood flair.

Eleven-year old Dini loves movies—watching them, reading about them, trying to write her own—especially those oh-so-fabulous Bollywood movies where you don’t need to know the language to get what’s going on. But when her mother reveals some big news, it does not at all jibe with the script Dini had in mind. Her family is moving to India. And not even to Bombay, which is the “center of the filmi universe” (and home to Dini’s all-time most favorite star, Dolly Singh). No, they’re moving to a teeny, tiny town that she can’t even find on a map: Swapnagiri. It means Dream Mountain, a sleepy little place where nothing interesting can happen....

But wait a movie minute! Swapnagiri is full of surprises like rose petal milk shakes, mischievous monkeys, a girl who chirps like a bird, and...could it be…Dolly herself?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Hooray for Bollywood. Eleven-year-old Dini is not pleased at all at the prospect of leaving Takoma Park, Md., and her best friend Maddie to live in a small town in southern India for two years. But though she knows it’s ridiculous, bakvaas, as Indians say, she wonders if she might get to meet her idol, Dolly Singh, Bollywood film star. Dini and Maddie are devoted Dolly fans. And, in a series of events as wonderfully convoluted and satisfyingly resolved as any movie plot could be, she does. The fast-paced tale introduces and manages to connect an Indian-American family, a postal worker from Mumbai, a movie producer and his erratic star, a car mechanic, a tea plantation owner, a local baker and assorted monkeys—all coming together for a grand finale party and dance. Set in imagined Swapnagiri (which means Dream Mountain), this high-energy concoction is thoroughly believable and entertaining. The story is told in a third-person present-tense voice that rings true to its protagonist, who sees her life as a movie script. Though Dini and Maddie are halfway around the world from each other, they communicate through cell phones and computer chat, keeping up their friendship while making new ones. Full of references to Bollywood movie traditions and local customs, this is a delightful romp with a fresh setting and a distinctive and appealing main character. - KIRKUS, April 1, 2011, *STAR

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything
Written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Abigail Halpin

(Atheneum, ISBN: 9781416995890; May 2011; Summer catalog p. 53)

Krishnaswami perfectly captures movie-star infatuation, best-friendship, geographical displacement, and youthful determination in this exuberant blend of American tween life and Indian village culture. When 11-year-old Dini's physician mother gets a grant to work at a clinic in the tiny village of Swapnagiri in India, Dini is plucked out of her contented life in suburban Maryland. Distraught about abandoning her BFF Maddie—who truly understands Dini's passion for Indian movie-star Dolly Singh—and their plans to attend Bollywood dance camp, she nevertheless remains optimistic as she tries to plot her new life, and those of the people she meets, as a screenplay. Krishnaswami (Naming Maya) interlaces Dini's story with lighthearted portrayals of the Indian film industry and postal system; she neatly and satisfactorily resolves every dilemma, suggesting elements of magic ("[W]hen you are moving... to a place whose name means ‘dream mountain,' your mind begins to open up in strange ways") while remaining firmly grounded in reality. An out-of-the-ordinary setting, a distinctive middle-grade character with an unusual passion, and the pace of a lively Bollywood "fillum" make this novel a delight.
Publishers Weekly, April 4, 2011, *STAR

Told with wit, whimsy, and much heart, this engaging story features a charming protagonist; colorfully drawn side characters; and a lively, vibrant narrative that descriptively details Indian culture, settings, daily life, and Bollywood movies.

Booklist, September 1, 2011

Publishers Weekly
Krishnaswami perfectly captures movie-star infatuation, best-friendship, geographical displacement, and youthful determination in this exuberant blend of American tween life and Indian village culture. When 11-year-old Dini's physician mother gets a grant to work at a clinic in the tiny village of Swapnagiri in India, Dini is plucked out of her contented life in suburban Maryland. Distraught about abandoning her BFF Maddie—who truly understands Dini's passion for Indian movie-star Dolly Singh—and their plans to attend Bollywood dance camp, she nevertheless remains optimistic as she tries to plot her new life, and those of the people she meets, as a screenplay. Krishnaswami (Naming Maya) interlaces Dini's story with lighthearted portrayals of the Indian film industry and postal system; she neatly and satisfactorily resolves every dilemma, suggesting elements of magic ("hen you are moving... to a place whose name means ‘dream mountain,' your mind begins to open up in strange ways") while remaining firmly grounded in reality. An out-of-the-ordinary setting, a distinctive middle-grade character with an unusual passion, and the pace of a lively Bollywood "fillum" make this novel a delight. Ages 8–12. (May)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Dini is a huge fan of Dolly Singh and her Bollywood movies, and so is her very best friend, Maddie, because "best friends share everything." Their plan to attend a Bollywood dance camp in Maryland is crushed when Dini's mother learns she has been offered a grant to work in Swapnagiri, India for two years. Is it coincidence or chance that Dolly is staying in Swapnagiri? Dini plots to meet Dolly and find out why she was so sad in her last movie. She learns that it is not easy to make life perfect as she copes with monkeys on the roof at the Dreamycakes Bakery, and meets a girl who can mimic bird sounds. Krishnaswami unfolds this story in the third person, present tense, just as if the reader were watching a movie. It reinforces Dini's hopes of writing a script, and carries the movie-making theme throughout the book. Light-hearted and dotted with bits of wisdom throughout, readers will discover how friendship can withstand long-distance separations, and the importance of staying focused on the big picture and not giving up. Readers will smile as events bring the engaging and amusing characters together in Swapnagiri (translated means Dream Mountain) and these characters revel in their own hopes and dreams. Halpin's pen and ink drawings throughout the book depict expressive characters and help establish the Indian setting. Recommended for anyone who loves movies and for best friends everywhere. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Dini and her friend Maddie love the movies of Bollywood and especially the "filmis" featuring their favorite star—the beautiful singer/actress Dolly Singh. When Dini's mother announces that the family is moving to India for two years, the 11-year-old friends are stunned. At first they are sad that they will be apart but then they are cheered by the idea that Dini may get a chance to meet Dolly. However, the town to which Dini's family is moving is so small that it is not even on a map, much less near Bombay, which is the Bollywood universe. In a series of coincidences and rewriting of life scripts, Dini manages not only to meet her idol, but also to patch up the star's love life. The lilting text conveys the nature of the Hindi language and culture in a subtle yet effective style. The electricity goes on and off at odd times, monkeys wreak havoc in water tanks, and a certain flower blooms only once every 12 years. The story line is girly-girl yet the humor, characters, and kismet make this light novel an enjoyable read.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
School Library Journal
09/01/2013
Gr 4–6—Dini and Maddie, 11-year-old BFFs, are together again in this sequel to The Grand Plan to Fix Everything (S & S, 2011). In this novel, the girls are just as starstruck with dazzling Bollywood actress Dolly Singh and eagerly await her arrival in Washington, DC, where she will have her first U.S. fillum (film) premiere. When the celebrity arrives at the airport dripping and dropping her jewelry in typical Dolly-fashion, she discovers that her passport is missing. Dini comes to the rescue, and the plot springs into a comedic romp to retrieve the passport, find a rose petal milkshake (the only thing that can soothe Dolly's nerves), and locate an elephant for the big event. With the help of her friends, the intrepid girl takes care of the unfortunate mishaps that continue to pop up in the days before the premiere, leaving her feeling "slightly heroic." The narrative is light and lilting, with some dialect woven in, and the details will help kids visualize the story's cultural nuances, while Halpin's black-and-white sketches effectively animate significant events. Dini remains grounded and honest throughout the narrative, even as she begins to doubt her friendship with Maddie when a third girl enters the scene. The protagonist also realizes that even though Dolly is beautiful, sweet, generous, and a true star, she is also slightly egocentric and spoiled. Humorous, entertaining, and with a sprinkle of stardust, this book is an enjoyable treat for the tween set, including reluctant readers.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
Kirkus Reviews

Hooray for Bollywood. Eleven-year-old Dini is not pleased at all at the prospect of leaving Takoma Park, Md., and her best friend Maddie to live in a small town in southern India for two years. But though she knows it's ridiculous, bakvaas, as Indians say, she wonders if she might get to meet her idol, Dolly Singh, Bollywood film star. Dini and Maddie are devoted Dolly fans. And, in a series of events as wonderfully convoluted and satisfyingly resolved as any movie plot could be, she does. The fast-paced tale introduces and manages to connect an Indian-American family, a postal worker from Mumbai, a movie producer and his erratic star, a car mechanic, a tea plantation owner, a local baker and assorted monkeys—all coming together for a grand finale party and dance. Set in imagined Swapnagiri (which means Dream Mountain), this high-energy concoction is thoroughly believable and entertaining. The story is told in a third-person present-tense voice that rings true to its protagonist, who sees her life as a movie script. Though Dini and Maddie are halfway around the world from each other, they communicate through cell phones and computer chat, keeping up their friendship while making new ones. Full of references to Bollywood movie traditions and local customs, this is a delightful romp with a fresh setting and a distinctive and appealing main character. (Fiction. 9-13)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416995906
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/19/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 266
  • Sales rank: 252,086
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Uma Krishnaswami is the author of several books for children. She was born in New Delhi, India, and now lives in Aztec, New Mexico.

Abigail Halpin is an illustrator/graphic designer living in New England who likes bright colors, all things retro, and sharp pencils.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

MJTJ

DOLLY SINGH’S FABULOUS FACE FLOATS across the screen of the TV in the family room. Two happy sighs float off the couch, one from Dini and the other from her best friend, Maddie.

Dini is a Dolly fan. She has been forever, from the time she discovered that Dolly’s first movie, in which she was just a kid, came out the day—the very day!—that Dini was born. You can’t be more closely connected than that.

Maddie is a fan because best friends share everything.

Closer and closer comes Dolly’s face, until her hair turns to mist and the sunlight catches her brown gold skin. Dolly opens her mouth to sing a perfectly tuneful song in this, her latest movie, Mera jeevan tera jeevan, or My Life Your Life, MJTJ for short. Dini and Maddie sing along, tapping their feet and dropping from the words into quick little “la-la-la’s” whenever they have to.

“Dolly is sooooo . . .,” Dini says.

“She is,” Maddie agrees. “She’s sooooo . . .”

So smart. So elegant. So talented. So perfect. Other stars must rely on lip-synching and playback singers. Not Dolly. Dolly can act. She can dance as if her feet were on fire. And she can sing.

“I’d love to meet her,” Maddie says. “Wouldn’t that be awesome?”

“Oh wow,” says Dini. Not much else to say. She tap-taps her feet in a moment of pure delight. “You know what I love about Dolly?”

“Everything!” says Maddie, throwing her arms wide in that special Dolly way.

“Oh yeah, but you want to know specially what?” She has just this moment realized this thing about Dolly. “When she says stuff, people listen!”

“Except the bad guys,” Maddie points out, “and we know what happens to them.”

“Must be nice to say stuff and have people listen,” Dini says.

“Dini,” Maddie tells her. “I will always listen to you. Anytime.”

“I know that,” Dini says. “I meant—you know, parents and people.”

“Oh. Parents,” says Maddie.

It’s true. Parents do seem to exist just to complicate the life of a kid. Dini’s parents, for example, are not fans. They laugh at the sad parts in the movies and groan at the funny ones, even though they are from India, where Dolly lives, and they should know better.

“Oh-oh-oh, listen!” Dini says, “Here comes that amazing song.”

“Sunno-sunno,” Dolly sings, right into their hearts, “dekho-dekho.”

Dini listen-listens. She look-looks. And here is the best part. Maddie is doing exactly the same thing. Two friends together, sharing this wonderful music. What could be better?

Many people love Bollywood movies from India. They are made in the city of Bombay, which is now really called Mumbai, only filmi people like Dini still call it by the old name because it’s classier. The dialogue in these movies is all in Hindi, but you can get them with subtitles in languages from Arabic to French to Thai because so many people all over the world are fans, just like Dini and Maddie.

“I can’t wait for dance camp,” Dini says.

“I know, me neither,” Maddie says. “It’ll be soooo . . .”

Maddie’s parents are not from India, and Maddie understands even less Hindi than Dini does, but little things like language don’t get in the way of a really good fillum, which is what true fans affectionately call these movies. Fillums. In just another month Dini and Maddie will be in that camp for a whole two weeks of Bollywood dance—what a treat that will be.

Chan-chan-chan, go Dolly’s silver anklets.

Dhoom-taana-dhoom, go the drumbeats.

Dini and Maddie watch MJTJ from start to finish, snapping their fingers and tapping their feet. Then they watch the special features, with interviews and bios of everyone from the camera people to the director to the stars, including, of course, Dolly herself.

“Wait-wait-wait,” Dini says, “go back just a bit.”

“What? To the interview?” Maddie hits the back arrow on the remote. “Hey, they’re talking in English.” A TV reporter is interviewing Dolly and asking her for her opinion on the latest trends in Hindi movies.

“It’s surreal what’s happening in the movie business,” Dolly is saying. “Surreal, I tell you.”

“What’s that mean?” Maddie says. “Surreal?”

Dini shakes her head. “Real” she gets, and “unreal.” But “surreal”? What’s that? “I’ll ask my dad,” she says. Dad is her vocabulary consultant for the Hindi words and sometimes a few English ones too.

Playing the interview over is not much help. Dolly says that the Bombay movie business is becoming that surreal thing, whatever it is.

“She doesn’t seem happy,” Dini says. “What do you think?”

“You’re right,” Maddie agrees. True fans can pick up on even the tiniest of cues.

“Nandu!” It’s Mom. “Are you upstairs? Listen, sweetoo, I have news for you.” Dini wishes her parents would not call her Nandu. In their time, in the last century, that was how you shortened Dini’s real name, which is Nandini.

Mom comes in with a handful of mail (including the latest copy of Filmi Kumpnee magazine). “Hi, Maddie, I didn’t know you were here. Nandu, guess what? I just got the contract in the mail. Such wonderful news.”

What contract? What news? Dini pauses Dolly with a click so she can listen to whatever boring thing Mom is about to tell her.

Mom puts the new Filmi Kumpnee into Dini’s outstretched hand. “We’re moving to India,” she says.

© 2011 Uma Krishnaswami

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    GREAT BOOK

    This book is good tells you how you should belive in youself

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Really good book

    This book makes you want to keep reading and reading. I wish there were more---a girl from minneapolis

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 9, 2011

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    Posted August 27, 2011

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