A young Bangladeshi girl who helps support her family by working in a brickyard finds a way to make her dream of going to school and learning to read a reality.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia MarantzYasmin, our young narrator, must work with her sister Mita in a brickyard, breaking bricks with a hammer to help support the family. They have come to Dhaka, Bangladesh, after their home in the country was demolished in a cyclone. Yasmin longs to go to school, but her Abba must pay for the rickshaw he pedals and for supplies to fix their roof, while her Amma is already hard at work as a maid. So each day Yasmin works ever harder to earn extra money. She uses it to buy a book to learn to read. But no one in the family can read it. Her father determines that the girls must go to school. And one happy day, they do. The text is rich with the sounds, sights, and smells of both the village left behind and of the city of Dhaka. Respect for and love of learning pervade the story. Chayka's rough and ready double-page oil paintings supply contextual details while conveying the family's pain and struggles. The first day of school experience is uplifting; the colors are brighter and smiles replace anxiety. A full-page map and detailed factual background information are included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library JournalGr 1–4—Yasmin and her sister are brick chippers in the noisy, crowded city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Each day as Yasmin breaks up bricks to be made into concrete, and as her father pedals his rickshaw and her mother irons and sweeps in a rich man's house, she dreams of going to school. She resolves to swing her hammer extra hard and saves her meager coins to purchase a precious book, which no one in her family can read. Her determination inspires her parents; her father finds a second route, and her mother begins making baskets to sell for extra money. And at long last, Yasmin's dream comes true—one day her father pedals her and her sister to school. A bleak situation becomes a powerful tale of hope through Yasmin's passion and determination. Malaspina tells the tale in graceful, straightforward language, describing the overwhelming sounds of the city with the precision of a child's eye. Chayka's glowing oil paintings capture the bright colors of Dhaka and the cruelty of the brickyard where Yasmin and her sister work in the blinding sun as the boss lounges under an umbrella. Neither text nor illustrations gloss over the hardships the girls experience, but also do not dwell on them; instead, the focus remains firmly on Yasmin's dreams and her resolve to achieve them.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
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