A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that a little familiarity with Bollywood films will help readers enjoy this book, which is written a bit like one of India's musical movies. Other than that, there's nothing to be worried about here: This book imparts a sweet lessons about friendship and loyalty, and Dini is a loyal, supportive -- and determined -- girl who comes up with a plan and makes it work, even against pretty strong odds. Kids unfamiliar with Indian culture will learn a few Hindi words, get a taste of a few native foods, and more.
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What's the story?
Eleven-year-old Dini Kumaran and her best friend, Maddie, are obsessed with Bollywood movies, especially those starring their idol, Dolly Singh. Even though they can't speak Hindi, they watch every movie, know the dialogue, and sing every song. When Dini’s mother, a doctor, wins a grant that moves the family to India, the girls are upset at being separated -- until they come up with their "grand plan": Dini will meet Dolly. The plan comes with many complications -- and grows to include some strange characters -- but along the way Dini learns a lot about India, filmmaking, and friendship. But will she get her happy ending?
Is it any good?
Overall, the book's writing is clever and humorous. The story of best friends going gaga over a movie idol -- and their sadness at being separated by circumstance -- will resonate with the book's target audience. Some readers may be a little put off by the plot, which strays in all sorts of directions and has an amazing number of coincidences that pull it all back together, but Bollywood movie fans (like Dini) would expect such a scenario from the start.
This book will especially be a hit with kids who like stories about best friends, exotic places (especially India), and filmmaking. They'll love Dini's well-drawn world, complete with all its dazzling drama and crazy adventure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the book's messages. What does it say about friendship? Kids: What does it mean to be a good friend?
Many kids are avid fans of a movie stars or famous singers. Who are some of the famous people you like? What do you like about them? How did they become famous, and what does the media do to keep you interested?
If you're familiar with Bollywood movies, what makes them unique? How is this book written like a Bollywood film? Did you think it was a good device, or did you find it confusing?
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