Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami. Illustrated by Julianna Swaney. Groundwood, 2016
Nine-year-old Yasmin visits Book Uncle’s Lending Library, located on a street corner near her apartment, every day. He calls her his Number One Patron. She usually borrows longer books, so the day Book Uncle suggests a picture book, she’s disappointed but politely accepts it. After she reads the story, about doves trapped in a hunter’s net working together to free themselves, she finds she can’t stop thinking about it. “How strange that such a skinny book can leave so many questions in my mind.” When Book Uncle is told by the city that he must shut down his library because he has no permit and can’t afford one, Yasmin is devastated. Then she’s determined. Together with her friends she draws attention to Book Uncle’s plight during the mayoral campaign, challenging the candidates to support Book Uncle and literacy, and finding out in the process that the current mayor was behind the lending library’s closure (he wanted to clean up the streets before his daughter’s marriage at a nearby fancy hotel). Engaging, child-centered, and often funny, this easy chapter book set in a large Indian city is also a primer in community activism for young children. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:
- What are some of the ways that Yasmin’s community is the same as yours? What are some of the ways that it is different?
- What lessons does Yasmin learn about politics, activism, and standing up for someone who is being unfairly treated?
- Yasmin has a goal of reading one book each day. What are your goals for reading this year? Where does Yasmin get her books to read? Where do you get your books to read?