Kalpana's Dream


All she thought of was the boy with the skateboard ... Sheep and shepherds, little new lambs ... Why? Neema and her best friend, Kate, are freshmen at Wentworth High. In English class they have the notorious Ms. "Bride of Dracula" Dallimore for a teacher. "Learn to fly!" she urges her students. But what are they supposed to write for their essay, "Who Am I?" At home, Neema's great-grandmother, Kalpana, has come for an extended visit all the way to Australia from India. At night she dreams of flying; during the ...

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All she thought of was the boy with the skateboard ... Sheep and shepherds, little new lambs ... Why? Neema and her best friend, Kate, are freshmen at Wentworth High. In English class they have the notorious Ms. "Bride of Dracula" Dallimore for a teacher. "Learn to fly!" she urges her students. But what are they supposed to write for their essay, "Who Am I?" At home, Neema's great-grandmother, Kalpana, has come for an extended visit all the way to Australia from India. At night she dreams of flying; during the day she cooks Indian food and watches the same Indian video again and again. It should be great having her there, but Neema doesn't speak Hindi, Kalpana doesn't speak English, and Neema's mother can't always be there to translate. Meanwhile, Gull Oliver, the good-looking new boy at school, seems familiar to Neema. At night he flies past her house on his skateboard. Both Neema and Kalpana watch him, drawn to him for different reasons. This rich story weaves realism and fantasy into an unusual portrayal of coming together and finding the essence of who you are.

While an English class of 7B students at Wentworth High in Australia struggle with a six-week essay assignment answering, "Who am I?," one child's great-grandmother arrives unexpectedly from India to follow her dream.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Themes of dreams, the past, family and flight play roles in Clarke's intricate novel, yet the surreal and realistic elements do not interweave as comfortably here as they did in her Starry Nights. On the first day of high school, Neema receives directions from Gull, a kind older boy who looks strangely familiar (seeing him, "words came drifting oddly into her mind: sheep, shepherd, lamb"). He, in turn, believes that Neema is someone special from his past. In an anticlimactic revelation, readers learn that in a "shepherd program" in primary school, she had been his "new little lamb." Meanwhile, Kalpana, Neema's great-grandmother, visits Australia from her native India. In Kalpana's titular recurring dream, she flies just above the ground, believing that if she goes fast enough she will once again see the face of her husband, who died at age 20. The sight of Gull skateboarding past their house convinces Kalpana that he is flying and leads to an epiphany (after sneaking a ride on his skateboard, Kalpana realizes that for an instant Neema's face is "the perfect image" of her husband). The metaphor stretches further in a rather tedious subplot, in which Neema's teacher assigns an essay and likens imaginative writing to "flying" (in a final image, the teacher and her boyfriend soar into the air in his car, "heading for a castle in the mountains, in a far-off foreign land"). Such strains on the narrative detract from the frequently lyrical writing and the convincing bond the author draws between Neema and Kalpana. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Ms. Dallimore's Year Seven English class must write an essay explaining "Who Am I?" Neema and her classmates find the assignment much harder than expected as they experience introspection and make discoveries about themselves. Neema already has a lot going on in her life with her great-grandmother, Kalpana, visiting from India. Kalpana and Neema do not speak the same language, but they gradually learn to communicate. Kate, Neema's best friend, thinks that her hatred of her little sister is her defining quality but realizes that hatred is not what she really feels for the precocious little girl. Throughout the class, students come to a new state of self-realization, thanks to the fanciful Ms. Dallimore's assignment. Ms. Dallimore herself, however, seems to be getting paler each day. Rumors fly that her boyfriend, who wears sunglasses at night and never eats, is really a vampire. This slim novel describes family relationships well. The journeys of self-awareness that the students experience are written with simple directness and woven together nicely. The mystical aspects of the story, however, are difficult to accept. Gull Oliver, a Year Eight skateboarder, provides connections to Neema and Kalpana that feel forced rather than magical. At the end of the book, much is left unexplained, particularly in regard to Ms. Dallimore's boyfriend. This book is for readers with an interest in Australian literature, stories about multicultural families, and those with a strong ability to suspend disbelief. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2005 (orig. 2004), Front Street, 168p., Ages 11 to 14.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-The students in Ms. Dallimore's 7B English class are given six weeks to complete an essay entitled "Who Am I?" During this time, Neema's great-grandmother travels from India to Australia to connect with her great-granddaughter. Due to a language barrier, their relationship is off to a shaky start, but they eventually come to an understanding of themselves as well as one another. Numerous points of views and a variety of dreams are woven into the novel to connect the characters' lives and to help enrich the common theme of self-perception. This is an intriguing, fast-paced story that includes a light buildup of suspense and touches of fantasy. The conclusion reinforces the notion that some characters are exactly what they first appear to be, while others clearly are not.-Christine McGinty, Newark Public Library, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When Neema's Indian great-grandmother Kalpana comes to visit her in Australia, she brings with her a dream of flying just a few inches above the ground. At the end of her flight, Kalpana thought, she would see the face of her husband who had died when he was only 20. Seventh-grader Neema dreams of Gull, the good-looking boy who seems oddly familiar, while her best friend Kate dreams of a room of her own. These dreams intersect in unexpected ways during Kalpana's visit. At school, English teacher Ms. Dallimore, aka the bride of Dracula, has assigned an essay, "Who am I?" Like her classmates, Neema struggles to figure that out. This complex narrative is told from the point of view of various family members, friends, the teacher and even the school cleaning woman, in a way that might be confusing to readers unaccustomed to a fully omniscient narrator. Nevertheless, the humor in this intricate blend of fairy tale elements, Indian culture, school story, friendship and family tensions should carry them through to the warmly satisfying ending. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932425222
  • Publisher: Highlights Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Pages: 148
  • Age range: 11 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Clarke was born in Sydney, Australia, and lives in Melbourne. She is the author of many award-winning books for young adults, including Kalpana's Dream, Wolf on the Fold, Night Train, and Friend of My Heart. "The best job I ever had," says Judith, "was as a tea-lady in a Sydney radio station. The worst was as governess/minder/parole officer of two teenagers whose parents had gone away (escaped?) for the long summer holidays." "I never made a conscious decision to be a writer; I never saw it as a profession or career. Writing was something I began doing when I was a child in the western suburbs of Sydney in the 1950s. All of the kids in my neighborhood were boys, and though they let my sister and I play with them, they pinched our marbles and comics and bashed us up. Writing stories was less dangerous." AWARDS Kalpana's Dream (Front Street, 2004) Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book in Fiction and Poetry Wolf on the Fold (Front Street, 2002) Children's Books of the Year Awards Winner-Children's Book Council of Australia Night Train (Holt, 2000) Children's Books of the Year Awards Honor, Older Readers -Children's Book Council of Australia Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Winner, Young Adult Fiction-State Library of Victoria, Australia

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Table of Contents

Little Again 9
Kalpana's Dream 17
Count Dracula's Essay 22
Sweet Lucy 28
Nirmolini 36
Boss! Boss! Boss! 43
Nani's Coming 50
Ms. Dallimore at Home 55
"Is That Your Homework?" 63
Awkward 70
Dear Sumati 80
A Spot of Writing 86
Mum's Going Loopy 92
Knobbly Knees 96
Trouble Sleeping 98
How Many Words? 104
Lucy Crying 109
White Sari 115
Find Happiness: Retrain 122
Nani's Film 128
At the Zoo 134
Uran Khatola 140
Nani Learns to Fly 145
Dr. Vladimir Goole 151
The Night Before 157
A Shock for Mrs. Drayner 161
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