Review Detail

Elementary School Problems
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
Nina is nine years old, and struggling with several things. Her father has to spend his week working away from home, and Nina misses him. She also has trouble controlling herself, which leads her to accidentally crash her friend Jay's project to the ground. He forgives her, but is also a little irritated. Nina's younger sister Kavita also is rather impetuous, and goes head first into a school trash can to retrieve something shiny, getting gum stuck in her hair right before her birthday party! Nina has forgotten to do a Personal Narrative Project for school. Jay doesn't have a lot of sympthay and claims to already be done. Nina decides to pursue the scientific experiment option after she helps her mother make a cabbage dish and notices that the lemon juice turns the cabbage a different color. This is a good thing, because her sweatshirt that she was wearing when she rescued Kavita from the garbage is not growing things as fast as she would like at the bottom of her closet! While working on the preparations for Kavita's party, Nine tries to work on her experiment, but it is constantly interrupted. Not only that, but Jay informs her at the party that he did the same experiment in third grade! Will Nina be able to get her project done by Monday morning?
Good Points
Nina's concerns are all too real; how many children have put off important projects because they just can't get themselves organized? There should be more books about this. I enjoyed Nina's family and her relationship with Kavita. The Indian culture is a major component in the book, but it is not a book about Nina's culture, which is perfect. I think Indian writers are the absolute best at writing descriptions of food, and I just wanted to go to dinner at Nina's house!

What I really think: I really enjoyed this; it was sort of like an Indian version of Haywood's Betsy books! (And I loved Betsy when I was six, so this is high praise!) While Nina is much better behaved than Ramona Quimby, this has some of the same feeling of Cleary's work, especially with the father struggling with his job. Sheth also has The No-Dogs-Allowed Rule (2012) for younger readers; sadly, it is out of print, but both of these are great choices for realistic fiction for elementary readers.
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