Title: Book Uncle and Me
Author: Uma Krishnaswami
Major Themes: India, Libraries, Elections
Synopsis: Yasmin loved to read, but Book Uncle’s stand, where she borrowed a book every day, was shut down—what could she do to rectify the situation?
When I first saw Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami I certainly didn’t know what to expect. It was quite a surprise to find this book was set in India. I ended up liking the book pretty well, and so did the children I read it to. This book features a library and a spunky girl who loves to read. I’ve always loved books and libraries, so this was a winner!
Yasmin tells her story in first person. She decided, when she was eight years old, that she was going to read a book every single day, forever. She had a good supply of books just down the street, where Book Uncle had set up a little lending library. He had two mottoes. The one posted on his little stand was Books free. Give one. Take one. Read – read – read. The motto he lived by was “Right book for the right person for the right day.” He always chose just the right book for Yazmin. Today though she could not figure out why he handed her a little children’s book. What was she supposed to learn from it?
After reading the story about doves caught in a net and how they got free, Yazmin couldn’t stop thinking about the book. What did it mean for her? Then, Book Uncle’s stand was shut down. He was told that he had to pay for an expensive permit or not offer books to people. What a catastrophe! What would Yazmin do without books? How could she help him get permission to distribute books? She and her classmates learn how an election can work to bring about change. But, they’re just children. What can they possibly do? They can’t even vote.
Book Uncle and Me is a great story about determination and the power of people banding together and talking about the truth and what needs to happen. It is also a story about a person being brave enough to do what needs to be done, even though it was out of her comfort zone and she had never done it before.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12