Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Review: Bringing Asha Home

Oh, man! What's up with the crying picture books? Bringing Asha Home, by Uma Krishnaswami, is another one I couldn't get through without breaking into tears.* It's a wonderful book, though, so I'll have to buck up and give you a review.

Arun really wants a little sister. His best friend, Michael, has one and even though Michael isn't that impressed by the experience, Arun thinks having a baby sister would be great. He tells Michael, "In India, where my dad was born, sisters tie shiny bracelets on the wrists of their brothers. The bracelets are called rakhi too, just like the holiday. Brothers and sisters promise to be good to each other, and everyone eats special sweets."

Arun soon finds out that he will have a baby sister. Mom and Dad are adopting a baby girl, Asha, from India. But the wait and the papers and the regulations are excruciating. Arun, in the meantime, turns eight and celebrates his birthday without Asha. The family even celebrates Asha's first birthday without her. Arun makes do by fashioning the best paper airplane he's ever created for his sister and placing it on a shelf in her room.

Finally, Arun tells us, "a few weeks later, on a sticky-warm Saturday, I find an envelope from India in the mailbox." It's the letter. "We help Dad get ready for his long trip. I write colorful letters--forward, backward, upside down--on the folded wings of the paper plane I've been saving for Asha. I tuck it into Dad's suitcase."

Bringing Asha Home is a beautiful adoption story from a brother's point of view. Jamel Akib's illustrations are warm, friendly, and accessible. I hope that Bringing Asha Home will be read outside the adoption community, however, because it's a universal story about the hopes of a boy and his family.

Bringing Asha Home is great read-aloud choice for children ages 4-9.


* I'm not usually sentimental despite evidence to the contrary on this blog.