The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic

( 1 )

Overview

Dini is back from India—with Bollywood star Dolly in tow! But life in the States isn’t all rose petal milk shakes…

Dini and Maddie, very best friends, are back in the same country at the same time! Better still, Dolly Singh, the starriest star in all of Bollywood, is in America too. Dini’s only just returned from India, and already life is shaping up to be as delicious as a rose petal milk shake. Perfect. Then why can’t she untie the knot in her stomach? Because so much can go ...

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The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic

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Overview

Dini is back from India—with Bollywood star Dolly in tow! But life in the States isn’t all rose petal milk shakes…

Dini and Maddie, very best friends, are back in the same country at the same time! Better still, Dolly Singh, the starriest star in all of Bollywood, is in America too. Dini’s only just returned from India, and already life is shaping up to be as delicious as a rose petal milk shake. Perfect. Then why can’t she untie the knot in her stomach? Because so much can go wrong when a big star like Dolly is in town. All Dini has to do is make sure Dolly has everything she needs, from a rose petal milk shake to her lost passport to…a parade? And an elephant?

Uh-oh… It’s time to think. What Would Dolly Do? If Dini can’t figure it out, Dolly might take matters into her own hands—and that will surely lead to the biggest mess of all!

Uma Krishnaswami has concocted a delicious sequel to her multiple star–reviewed The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, which Kirkus Reviews called “a delightful romp.”

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
In this sequel to The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, Dini is back home in Washington, D.C., enjoying that she is back with her best friend, Maddie. And both girls are extremely excited that their favorite Bollywood actress—and Dini's friend—Dolly Singh will be coming to D.C. to introduce her new movie to the American public. Dini and her father are pulled into the plans for the gala opening, but Dini has no idea how much work it can be helping someone as famous and eccentric as Dolly. Not only does she have to make sure that Dolly has as many rose petal milkshakes as she could want, but somehow Dini has to figure out what happened to Dolly's passport, arrange an elephant for a parade, and make sure that there is a caterer for the gala...and all this while working on her own dance—with her friends Maddie and Brenna—to impress Dolly. Can Dini pull this off? Do Bollywood movies have a lot of dancing in them? Younger readers will certainly love Dini's positive attitude and will probably want to learn more about Bollywood after reading this story. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
Kirkus Reviews
Best friends Dini and Maddie and Bollywood movie star Dolly Singh, from Krishnaswami's The Grand Plan to Fix Everything (2011), return for a breathless dance through Washington, D.C. Dini's visit from India, where she's been living, back to Takoma Park, Md., reunites the sixth-graders. They plan to take part in the grand opening of the star's latest film, part of an Indian festival at the Smithsonian. But this dance doesn't progress smoothly: The flighty star has lost her passport; she wants an elephant for the festival parade; she needs rose-petal milkshakes and a really nice cake for her party. And there's more. The caterers have canceled. Maddie hopes her new friend Brenna can be part of their performance. When Mini, a young elephant in the National Zoo, takes off down Connecticut Avenue, the tranquilizing dart meant for her hits Dolly's husband. Jumping from one scene to another, the fast-paced, present-tense narrative conveys Dini's jittery jet-lagged feeling as she struggles to choreograph her own steps and to make Dolly happy. Just as the star drops jewelry, the author flings pieces of plot everywhere, but she pulls it all back together in fine Bollywood style. Halpin's grayscale illustrations (final art not seen) add flavor. Bits of Indian culture and Bollywood drama add delicious undertones to this confection, a treat for middle-grade readers. (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442423282
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 8/13/2013
  • Pages: 274
  • Sales rank: 799,144
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.66 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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

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Read an Excerpt

The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic


  • DINI AND MADDIE, BEST FRIENDS forever, dance around the room in swirls of green and silver, silver and green. Green and silver scarves, skirts, pants, tunics, shoes, and sandals lie scattered all over Maddie’s room. Stripy notebooks and pens are heaped on the desk, along with a jumble of jewelry.

Dini is a fan of Dolly Singh, Bollywood movie star extraordinaire, whose signature colors, as everyone knows, are green and silver, silver and green. Dini is a Dolly fan, so Maddie is with Dini. That’s how best friends are.

Faster and faster they go. One. Two. One-two-three. One. Two. Back-two-three and forward-two-three and one. Two.

A bangle clatters to the floor. “Oops,” says Maddie.

“Just like Dolly,” says Dini. They laugh together.

It’s true. Dolly does drip jewelry, literally, wherever she goes. She will shortly be scattering her fabulous baubles right here in the Washington, D.C., area when she and her own true love, Mr. Chickoo Dev, arrive for the American premiere of Dolly’s latest, greatest movie, Kahan hai Sunny Villa? or Where Is Sunny Villa? KHSV for short.

Dini quits dancing to hand Maddie’s bangle back to her. “Maddie,” she says, “I’ve got something for you.” She flings the trailing end of the scarf over her shoulder and digs in her suitcase. “I meant to give it to you yesterday.”

A shoe flies out, and a green stripy sock. “Where is it?” Dini says.

“Where’s what?”

“This. Look!”

Maddie looks. Maddie screams.

The door bursts open. It’s only Gretchen, Maddie’s mom. “Everything okay?” she says, looking around the room. Satisfying herself that no one has died, she exits.

Maddie rolls her eyes. Dini shrugs. Of course everything is okay. Screaming is completely justified.

Dini’s gift is a photograph, signed and inscribed in glittery ink by Dolly herself: “Salaam-namaste to Maddie, my dearest friend and fan. Hugs and kisses, Dolly Singh.”

“Oh!” says Maddie. “Salaam-namaste! Am I saying it right?”

Dini’s not always certain how to say things right in Hindi, but little things like language shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying a really good fillum, what true fans call these movies. “I knew you’d love it,” she says.

“Is that your house?” says Maddie, looking closely at the picture of Dolly. She’s dancing in front of a house whose funny-looking shutters give it a blinky look.

“Your house.” The words halt the moment and stretch it like a rubber band. The moment gathers itself and moves on, but it leaves Dini a bit stunned. “Um, yes,” she says.

The different places in her life are mixing and merging instead of staying firmly on the ground as places are supposed to do. Here, for instance, is Takoma Park, Maryland, a hop and a skip by Metrorail from Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital.

And there is Swapnagiri, the little town in the Blue Mountains of south India whose name means “Dream Mountain,” and Dini knows that it doesn’t disappoint. It’s where Dini now lives with her parents, and will live until Mom’s grant ends and they all come back to . . . to here.

Here. There. Here. They swirl and whirl in Dini’s mind. She tries to shake off the dizzying effect. There is no time for dizziness.

Maddie is talking about how she can’t wait to see all those amazing tea-gardens and houses and whatnot in the movie and how dreams can come true, never mind what anyone says, and isn’t that just soooo . . . ? She props Dolly’s picture up on her bookcase. “There, how’s that?”

“Perfect,” says Dini automatically.

It is perfect. It is. Dolly looks on top of the world up there, between a penny jar and a tangle of beads.

Maddie dances some whirly-twirly steps that she ends on a sideways freeze with both arms stuck out. She looks like a person who has stepped out of an ancient Egyptian tomb painting.

No-no-no, Dini thinks. That is not it. Not at all.

“I wonder if we find just the right music . . .,” she says, trying to sound helpful and hopeful. She turns the volume up, so that Dolly’s voice comes pouring into the room. It’s a glorious voice, even in this demo audio cut from the movie soundtrack.

“Haan-haan-haan, nahin-nahin!” sings Dolly in a catchy melody that underscores a stirring moment of decision. Dolly’s songs have a way of cutting right to the heart of Dini’s own feelings, yes-yes-yes all mixed up with no-no.

Maddie circles around Dini waving a rainbow stripy scarf over her head with both hands. The gold accents on the scarf blur as the Egyptian person step turns into a belly dance of some kind. “How’s this?” Maddie demands. “Am I getting it? Close?”

“Nahin-nahin!” Dolly sings.

“Try it this way.” Dini shows her how to make V-shaped designs on the floor with one foot, then the other, before leaping forward with a hand extended, palm out.

Then back and around

and one more loop,

and back and around

and one more loop, and again

and again, just

one more loop

and—hands together—

sliiiide

to a

stop.

“See?” She is breathless from it. “Want to try? You have to repeat and repeat and slide-slide-slide. It’s a pattern.” She has studied every single dance move in a dozen Dolly movies to come up with this combination.

For a brief time, there is only the sound of ankle bells and bangles.

This dance sequence needs to be exciting, and dreamy wonderful. But it also needs to be Dollyish, which means no Egyptian-tomb-painting steps.

As they go down to dinner, help Maddie’s mom put plates out, pour juice, and pick a salad dressing, Dini frets. She can see that Maddie is worried too.

“Did I do it wrong?” asks Maddie anxiously, blocking her mother’s attempts to add sunflower seeds to her salad.

“No,” Dini says, although she wants to cry, No-no-no! Or does she mean yes-yes?

It is possible that some of Dini’s confusion comes from traces of that odd feeling that travelers know as jet lag, which turns night into day and wakefulness into sleep. Maybe some of it is also because her family is scattered about like bits of Dolly’s flying finery. Dad came from India with Dini on that long-long-long flight, but he’s staying with a friend who runs a B&B a couple of blocks away. Mom, of course, is back in India taking care of the health and wellness of women in her little clinic.

All of which makes perfect sense. So what’s the problem? Dini takes a moody bite of chicken salad and lettuce sandwich with some kind of mustardy spread that Maddie’s mom has made from scratch.

She’s been looking forward to seeing Maddie again! To planning this dance. To being here for the grand premiere of KHSV. Nowhere in that looking forward was there even a hint of this mixed-up-ness. She tries to recover a squirt of mustard spread that has escaped from her sandwich, but it splats hopelessly onto the tablecloth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2013

    The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic

    This book was really good. I didn't buy this book on my nook, but I did recieve the book from the public library this summer for the young adult program. Turns out that book was an editing copy, meaning it was uncorrected of any errors and might be slightly different from edited ones. Like I said this book is really good, but half the time I didn't even understand it. Though I think that is because it was an editing copy. Well anyways, BUY THIS BOOK! IT IS PRETTY COOL!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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