Behera, Sanjiv. Vikram and the Enchanted Seals.
Rickshaw Books, Ebook received from author.
Vikram and his family travel from their home in California to India for the funeral of his grandmother. He meets and bonds with his grandfather, who gives him a very old family seal... right before he goes missing. When Vikram, his brother Jai, and a family servant, Manu, go looking for the grandfather, they meet Toral, whose grandparents have been kidnapped by horrible, giant monsters called Rakshasas. Toral's grandparents also have a seal,and the Rakshasas, led by the evil King Kama, think that they can rule the world if they can assemble all of the seals and destroy the Dharma Cube. Vikram knows that he can't let this happen, so the group, aided by some very clever langurs, set out to find the seals and destroy the Rakshasas. Vikram begins to realize that his purpose in holding the seal is to save the world from destruction, so even though he despairs at times, he holds fast to his purpose in order to fulfill his destiny.
Strengths: This was a well-written and well-plotted fantasy novel with great action scenes. While it has much in common with many other quest and/or "teens save the world from utter destruction" books, the refreshingly unique part it that the mythological base for this book is Indian and not Celtic. Other than Lloyd Alexander's The Iron Ring, I can't think of another middle grade book with an Indian setting. I also liked Vikram's longing for a relationship with his grandfather, and his desire to understand his culture of origin. For another review, check out Boys Read.org.
Weaknesses: The new cover is better than the old one, but at first I thought the "enchanted seals" were animals rather than seal stones, which didn't sound as interesting.
Thanks to a very kind offer from Mr. Behera, this Kindle eBook is available today for FREE! Here are his instructions:
The book will automatically be priced for free on the amazon.com website. Your readers just need to go to amazon.com, find the book, and the purchase price will be $0. No code necessary. Here is a link you can use: http://tinyurl.com/79xlyft
(Currently, the price is $2.99, but will change on Monday @ 12:01am pacific time.)
Ellis, Deborah. No Ordinary Day.
Valli works in the coal town of Jharia picking up stray pieces of coal, living with an abusive aunt and uncle. When she find out that these people were merely given money by her family to take her in, she runs away to Kolkata. When there, she is at first taken in by woman running a brothel (although this is not clearly explained-- I inferred it) until the woman realizes that Valli has leprosy. Valli lives on the streets for a while until she meets Dr. Indra, who cleans her up and tries to treat her injured feet. Valli balks at being cooped up inside and runs away, but eventually comes back to the hospital. Dr. Indra explains why her feet have no feeling due to the nerve damage caused by leprosy, and Valli decides to stay and get treatment because she wants to grow up to be like Dr. Indra.
Strengths: Ellis' work is always short and very powerful. We use The Breadwinner as a class novel in the 6th grade, and it is a very popular unit. No Safe Place is another powerful work.
Weaknesses: The short length of Ellis' work appeals to students, but I would have been glad to read more about Valli and her experiences.
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Hop over to Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog to see the complete listing of middle grade reviews for this week.