No Ordinary Dayby Deborah Ellis
Even though Valli spends her days picking coal and fighting with her cousins, life in the coal town of Jharia, India, is the only life she knows. She’s filled with terror when she glimpses the monsters living on the other side of the train tracks — the lepers. When Valli discovers that her “aunt” is a stranger who was paid to take Valli off… See more details below
Even though Valli spends her days picking coal and fighting with her cousins, life in the coal town of Jharia, India, is the only life she knows. She’s filled with terror when she glimpses the monsters living on the other side of the train tracks — the lepers. When Valli discovers that her “aunt” is a stranger who was paid to take Valli off her family’s hands, she leaves Jharia and begins a series of adventures that takes her to Kolkata, the city of the gods. Valli finds that she really doesn’t need much to live and is very resourceful. But when a chance encounter with a doctor reveals that she has leprosy will Valli be able to face life as one of the monsters she has always feared, or flee to an uncertain life on the street?
Homeless orphan Valli is always friendly, if amoral.
When Valli can, she sneaks glimpses at Bollywood dances, learns a little reading or throws rocks at the monsters—people without faces or fingers—who live on the other side of the tracks. Most of the time, however, she picks up coal. Sick of beatings, hunger and coal, Valli hides on a passing truck, fleeing her life of poverty for a life of... well, more poverty, but also more excitement. On the Kolkata streets she lives day-to-day. Constantly starving, she contentedly begs and steals; when she has something she doesn't need (a bit of extra soap, a blanket), she passes it on to somebody else. When Valli tries her luck begging from kind Dr. Indra, she learns she has leprosy, just like the faceless monsters back home. It takes some time, but Valli learns to accept help from the women who offer it to her: Dr. Indra, who works at the leprosy hospital; Neeta, a sales manager with leprosy who teaches Valli how to make pie charts; Laxmi, a teenager who's been burned. An emphasis on Christmas falls discordant, but Valli's journey from stubborn solitude to member of a community is richly fulfilling.
A true-to-life portrait of a young girl's cheerful selfishness in this surprisingly optimistic novel of unrelenting poverty. (Fiction. 9-11)
Meet the Author
Deborah Ellis says her books reflect “the heroism of people around the world who are struggling for decent lives, and how they try to remain kind in spite of it.” She is best known for her Breadwinner Trilogy set in Afghanistan and Pakistan — a series that has been published in 25 languages, with more than 1 million dollars in royalties donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International. She has won the Governor General's Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. She recently received the Ontario Library Association's President's Award for Exceptional Achievement, and she has been named to the Order of Ontario. She lives in Simcoe, Ontario.
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