Hope Is a Girl Selling Fruit

Amrita Das, trans. from the Hindi by Gita Wolf and Susheela Varadarajan. Tara (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (28p) ISBN 978-93-83145-02-7
Das’s stiff, formalized Indian folk art spreads look a little like Egyptian tomb art or scenes painted on Greek urns. In gently tinted, intricately worked drawings, modern objects like computers and T-shirts are reduced to forms as simple as the trees and birds that frame them. Das, herself from straitened circumstances, reflects on her own life through encounters with two other young women. The first is a fellow passenger on a train journey. Something about the girl, her lonely look, and her want of food haunts Das (“There we all were,” Das recalls with guilt about the rest of her companions on the train, “eating and talking”). The second girl, a fruit seller outside the train station where Das alights, is disabled, and two boys taunt her. But this girl is resilient, and she runs her fruit business unperturbed. In her, Das senses hope. Heartened, she charts her own future: “I want to be brave, and different.” Das’s memoir spills over the boundaries and scope of typical picture books, and her honesty and empathy are instantly palpable. Ages 10–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Genre: Children's
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