cover image Thirst


Varsha Bajaj. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-593-35439-1

A 12-year-old investigates water stolen from her Mumbai neighborhood in this clear look at resource access and wealth disparity. Minni and her brother Sanjay live with their affectionate parents in a small, laughter-filled home crammed alongside other residences. Authorities severely limit water to the low-income neighborhood’s local tap, and when a fight at the tap hits close to home, Minni wonders what she can do to mitigate her community’s water crisis. Things take a turn for the worse after she, her brother, and their friends inadvertently witness water being stolen, and Sanjay and another friend are soon sent away to avoid potential retaliation by the culprits. When their mother becomes ill, and Minni takes her place working as a servant at a wealthy Mumbai apartment building, she sees firsthand the difference that privilege makes in garnering basic necessities (“Money, not prayers, makes the water flow”)—and is surprised to learn more about the local water-related injustice. Aptly describing variations between rich and the poor and alternating Minni’s first-person telling with the child’s observant journal entries, Bajaj (Count Me In) writes an engaging literary mystery. Ages 10–up. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary. (July)