Banerjee's (Maya Running) tender story explores a boy's reaction to the death of a loved one. When eight-year-old Anu's beloved Bapu (grandfather) suffers a stroke while the two are out bird-watching in the woods, Anu feels responsible. He thinks if only he'd brought the cell phone, the rescue workers might have arrived sooner, saving Bapu's life. His parents try to reassure Anu that it wasn't his fault, but they are distracted by their own grief. Anu is convinced that, if he's good, Bapu will come back. Yet the boy fears Bapu will be unable to return, as he watches his parents box up Bapu's belongings and make arrangements to cremate him and throw his ashes into the Twin Rivers. Anu tries to become a sadhu, an Indian holy man who goes without material comforts, in hopes of connecting with his grandfather. Anu's longing for Bapu is touching and believable, as is his need to be reassured that his grandfather's death was not his fault. The addition of Indian beliefs and customs strengthens the story and helps readers understand the loving bond between Anu and his beloved grandfather. A less successful thread involves references to September 11, and the prejudiced attitude toward Anu and his family (one of the ambulance medics says that Bapu resembled ""that damned Bin Laden""). This perceptive exploration of one child's grief demonstrates that grief is a universal emotion that flows through all cultures. Ages 7-10.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006 Release date: 10/01/2006 Genre: Children's