Reviews for Small Acts of Amazing Courage

Booklist Reviews 2011 February #1
While her British Army major father has been away in WWI, 15-year-old Rosalind has enjoyed freedom in her southeast Indian town, roaming the bazaar with her Indian friends rather than chatting with other Brits at the local club. Then her father returns, and she chafes against his strict colonial views. After she is caught listening to Gandhi at a rally, Rosalind's furious father ships her off to her English aunts, where her free-thinking spirit once again shakes up the status quo. The historical and cultural details occasionally veer into docunovel territory, but Whelan balances the facts with distinctive, sometimes comical characterizations and vibrant, original sensory descriptions, whether Rosalind is describing an aunt's suit as "the color of burnt bacon" or the feeling, as ashes drift from the funeral pyres, that "the dead had become part of me." Set during a pivotal moment in Indian history, Whelan's vivid, episodic story explores the tension between doing what's right, rather than what's expected, and the infinite complexities of colonialism: "Though I have never been there, home, of course, is England." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Fifteen-year-old Rosalind, the freethinking daughter of a major in the British Indian army, experiences her first stirrings of social justice in post-WWI India. Rosy's interest in Ghandi's nonviolent protests gets her sent to live with aunts in England, but she remains steadfast in her views. Issues of self-determination are played out both politically and personally in this thought-provoking coming-of-age story. Glos. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 March #1

With her father away fighting Turks and her mother so often "under the weather," still grieving over long-dead son Edward, 15-year-old Rosalind James has grown independent visiting the bazaar with her Indian friend, Isha, and causing comment among the other British officers' wives at the club. Rosalind's headstrong and helpful nature gets her into trouble quickly when her father returns from the front in 1919. He fires a man too old to sweep the family house, and the old sweeper sells his grandchild to feed the family. Rosalind saves the baby but nearly finds herself sent to England for a proper education. Only her mother's fear that Rosalind will die as Edward did allows Rosalind to stay in her beloved India. However, when she becomes interested in what the famous Gandhi is preaching (not to mention the handsome Max Nelson); Major James packs Rosalind off to live with her aunts. How will a girl raised in India survive the cold climes of a homeland she's never visited? What will her sweet Aunt Louise and her prickly Aunt Ethyl make of their impetuous niece? National Book Award winner Whelan's characters are more types than people, and there is little of the flavor of the subcontinent in this overstuffed, occasionally pleasant tale of a plucky young woman in Raj-era India. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 February #3

Master storyteller Whelan (Homeless Bird) again whisks readers to a dramatic period in world history, this time to post-WWI India, where Gandhi's unconventional methods of protest are causing a stir. Fifteen-year-old Rosy, the daughter of a major serving in the British Indian army, possesses a big heart, curiosity, and a strong sense of justice. Unfortunately, her strict father doesn't share these traits. When she takes enormous risks--saving an Indian infant sold to a villainous beggar and sneaking off with her friend, Lt. Max Nelson, to witness one of Gandhi's speeches--her father becomes enraged. Rosy is sent back to England to live with her austere Aunt Ethyl and Ethyl's bullied younger sister, Aunt Louise ("Aunt Louise clutched me to her as if she were drowning and I was a life preserver"). It doesn't take Rosy long to shake up her aunts' somber household with her bold notions regarding Indian liberation. Whelan's insight into history and her characters' minds make every moment of this saga believable. The open-ended finale will leave fans yearning for a second installment. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 March

Gr 6-10--Rosalind is the 15-year-old willful daughter of a British major and his wife who are stationed in India. When her father arrives home from World War I, he discovers that his delicate wife has not ruled the household or their daughter as strictly as he would like and sets out to correct that. Rosalind becomes intrigued with Gandhi's movement to win India's freedom from British rule, which infuriates her father. After disobeying him once too often, she is shipped off to England to live with two aunts and attend boarding school. Her determination to do as she pleases brings about misadventures during a cholera outbreak on the voyage and with her aunts. When notified of her misdeeds, her horrified parents demand that she return to India immediately. She happily complies, taking her timid aunt, who through Rosalind has found her own freedom, with her. Whelan paints a detailed picture of the lives of the English and the Indians during British rule, especially those of the women and children in both cultures, without detracting from the story. The dominant theme of the book, the value of freedom by nations and individuals, is cleverly woven into the plot. The characters are fully fleshed out and illustrate the differences and similarities between the two cultures during a period that doesn't receive much treatment in young adult literature. The ending is a little too pat, but readers won't care. This is a beautifully written, fascinating, and informative story.--Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC

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