Vanished

( 6 )

Overview

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother-intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.

When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, strange clues surface: a tea kettle ornamented with a familiar pointy-faced dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. ...

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Vanished

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Overview

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother-intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.

When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, strange clues surface: a tea kettle ornamented with a familiar pointy-faced dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela's instrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. Even if Neela does track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

Sheela Chari's debut novel is a finely tuned story of coincidence and fate, trust and deceit, music and mystery.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Chari's first novel starts off slowly, but readers will soon be invested in 11-year-old Neela Krishnan's desperate search for her missing veena, a four-foot-tall Indian stringed instrument that dates to the 11th century. Neela's grandmother, who lives in India, sends her a veena that may be a rare "Guru original," carved with a lucky dragon symbol. When a mysterious man lures Neela into a church and the veena disappears, her superstitious mother believes the instrument was not stolen but cursed, vanishing in an attempt to return to its rightful owner. Nevertheless, Neela is wracked with guilt and passionate about recovering the instrument that both inspires her and diminishes her intense stage fright. She collects some clues—a dragon tea kettle, a fellow student's unusual behavior, a menacing note, a connection to a late musician—that lead her all the way from Boston to India to find the truth. Indian history and culture (musical and otherwise), well-observed family and friendship dynamics, and elements of fate, luck, and tradition bring depth this quiet but enthralling mystery. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Cherie Haas
When young Neela is given her grandmother's one-of-a-kind veena (a classical Indian instrument), her world is turned upside down. Having been practicing on a borrowed instrument, the family gift means everything to this musician. But it doesn't last for long, for this particular veena is known to have a curse that least of all makes it disappear, and Neela's parents want to protect her from what terrible things it could bring about. Neela, the main character, is a smart, brave and even audacious girl who defies her mother's wishes time and again with a strong desire to find her veena, and the truth. One thing she learns is that being truthful and fair is more rewarding than anything else she could want. Set mostly in America, the story is infused with details about Indian culture, and would be appropriate for a cultural studies class and a great addition to any library. Reviewer: Cherie Haas
Kirkus Reviews

When Neela's grandmother sends her a veena from India, she neglects to mention that the instrument is cursed.

Neela Krishnan tries to follow her parents' advice to take the best of both her cultures: Indian and American. Still, she sometimes feels she is singled out in school because of her heritage. So Neela, a budding musician, is nervous but pleased when she can share her treasured veena with her classmates—until it goes missing. Following clues in hopes of finding it, Neela travels to India to unravel the history of the veena. Well-paced and with moments of family humor—Mrs. Krishnan performs anaartito drive away back luck ("That's so unscientific," according to Mr. Krishnan)—the novel offers a strong cast of characters and richly-described settings; both the legend and the contemporary mystery come alive for readers. This is a study of musicians and the passion that drives them, including, for some, an obsessive desire to own a special instrument. Neela grows as she journeys to find the veena, emerging stronger than before: closer to her family, with new friendships forged and, most gratifying, showing signs of becoming a serious musician. For readers whose interest in veenas is piqued, there is an author's note with more information.

Chari, in her debut novel, strikes the right note with this engaging, intricate story that spans generations and two countries.(Mystery. 10-14)

School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—The veena, a traditional Indian stringed instrument, is a pretty exotic thing to have in Virginia. Neela's veena, which belonged to her grandmother, is even more exotic, since it might be a Guru original-oh, and it comes with a curse. It always disappears and ends up back at a particular music store in India. When the instrument is stolen from Neela, she wonders if maybe the curse is true, but she also begins her own investigation, with the help of her best friend, Pavi, and new friend Matt (who wears old rock tees and teaches her how to use a credit card to unlock a door). A plethora of suspects, odd coincidences, and scary warnings culminates with a visit to India and the Chennai Music Palace. Neela is a realistic 11-year-old, addicted to potato chips and not assertive at first, but her confidence grows as she learns more about the veena and the people involved. Supporting characters are well drawn: her frazzled but loving parents and haircut-phobic little brother; Sudha Auntie, her cranky instructor; and mysterious Lynne, who has her own connection to the veena. A fine, fast-moving mystery with a satisfying conclusion.—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423131632
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 7/26/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 382,176
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Sheela Chari (www.sheelachari.com) was born in Bangalore, India, and has lived in Iowa, Washington State, California, Massachusetts, and New York. She holds an MFA degree in Creative Writing from New York University. This is her first novel.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Recommended

    This is a great book to get young readers hooked into the genre of mystery. As a Reading Specialist, I would highly recommend this book to be added to any 5th or 6th grade classroom. The frequent twist and turns keeps the reader engaged. An added bonus is the connection to music and exposure to another culture. As Neela solves the case of her missing instrument she developes unexpected friendships. This is also a great book to discuss values and get kids debating issues of lying and ownership.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Mystery of the Cursed Veena

    There don't seem to be very many books for younger readers that explore the culture of India or the modern culture of Indians in America. Sheela Chari takes this opportunity to expand the horizons of American children and young adults. She shows pride for her heritage, culture and music in this wonderful book about a Middle School girl, Neela, whose prized veena disappears. She becomes mixed up in the history and the instrument's curse adding a twist to the story worthy of a Scooby Doo mystery. This book's musical tones struck a chord of interest for me that would not let me put it down.

    Kudos to Sheela Chari for bringing light to a culture with such a beautiful and colorful heritage and opening it to our younger readers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2013

    Rghj

    This...IS THE BEST BOOK EVER

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    What a fantastic story! My 8 year old daughter and I absolutely

    What a fantastic story! My 8 year old daughter and I absolutely loved this book! Very well written with just the right amount of mystery to keep it interesting without being far-fetched. Sheela Chari has done a beautiful job exposing young (and grown) readers alike to South Indian culture in a captivating and fun way. I would highly recommend this book! Looking forward to Ms. Chari's next novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2012

    Good book!

    Good book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    Good book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

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