Reviews for In Andal's House

Booklist Reviews 2013 May #2
Why would a little boy be invited to a classmate's house to watch the Diwali fireworks only to be cruelly sent away by his friend's grandmother? In this solemn but hopeful tale of one boy's sad experience, readers will learn that lightness and darkness exist within all of us. Kumar is turned away from Andal's house because he is a Dalit and Andal is a high-caste Brahmin, and according to ancient caste norms, the two do not mingle. The event provides an opportunity for Kumar to put his despair into perspective and learn that India is changing. Readers might recognize similarities between the Indian caste system and racial segregation in the U.S., as Grandfather describes the activism that spurred legal changes ensuring that "under the law . . . we are all equal." Hall's illustrations echo traditional Indian folk art, while Whelan deftly explains that the persistence of the caste system is mostly because of older individuals who won't change. This book raises big questions about society and its norms that will challenge readers' intellectual curiosity. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
When Kumar goes to celebrate Diwali at his classmate's house, Andal's grandmother, raised a Brahmin, does not allow the Dalit ("untouchable" in former times) boy to stay. Kumar's grandfather explains that the India of the future will be different. This purposive story about Indian caste prejudice can open discussion about discrimination. Hall's vivid folk art style paintings enliven the setting. Glos.

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 May

Gr 2-4--In this introduction to the Hindu caste system, Kumar is invited to his friend Andal's house to watch the fireworks for the celebration of Diwali. Andal is high-caste Brahmin, and his family is very wealthy. Kumar's family had been outcasts and are concerned about the visit. Kumar is the best student in his class and believes that is why Andal invited him. When he arrives at his friend's large home, he is met by Andal's grandmother, who tells him, "we cannot have a boy of no caste in our home. It would never do." Kumar returns home to his grandfather, who explains how things used to be and that at least now there are laws against discrimination that make everyone equal. He reminds his grandson that it wasn't Andal who turned him away. The story ends with Kumar feeling hopeful about his future as he dreams of the Diwali lamps lighting up the darkness. This picture book has vibrant and colorful artwork. It will have a place in collections that want to show how discrimination of any kind adversely affects young people. Readers will also see in Kumar the power of perseverance.--Nancy Jo Lambert, Ruth Borchardt Elementary, Plano, TX

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