Today’s featured book is titled Looking for Bapu; and was written what seems like eons ago now on my blog. As I mentioned in a couple of posts recently, revival is cool!! Having old posts that have had dust building up so much that they were forgotten, and in the land of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ I decided it is high time I bring them back to life here.
And I am glad I am doing so, because I am surprised that there have not been too many reviews/reads since I first read the book (based on Amazon/GoodReads). It is definitely a good read. And it has nothing to do with Mahatma Gandhi (though he was often addressed as Bapu/father).
So here is Looking for Bapu‘s review with some needed updates while retaining the jist of the review (the original review is also on GoodReads, if you are interested!) Of course, the WYR section or other such sections were also not in my original post, as was this part that I am writing right here….
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The Book Review
Looking for Bapu
Title: Looking for Bapu
Author: Anjali Banerjee
Publishers: Wendy Lamb Books
Pub Date: March 4th 2009 (first published October 10th 2006)
Genre: Children’s Fiction; Asian American; Multi-generational Family Life; Death and Dying
Age-Range: 8 – 12 years
Source: Local Library
Anu’s beloved grandfather Bapu moved from India to Anu’s home in the Pacific Northwest when Anu was small, and Anu is devastated when Bapu dies. But when he is visited by Bapu’s ghost, he knows that there must be a way to bring him back to life—he’s just not sure how. Anu enlists his friends Izzy and Unger to help him. From shaving his head to making up fortunes in the hope of becoming more holy, Anu tries everything. He even journeys to the island of the Mystery Museum. Perhaps there, Karnak the Magician will be able to help?
When I joined the South Asian Challenge
this the year I wrote this post initially, along with a few more (did I bite off more than I could chew? In all likelihood, yes, just like I end up doing other elsewheres too.. but am I enjoying it? I would have to say – An Enthusiastic Yes!), I knew a few authors I would be reading beforehand. These included Salman Rushdie, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Tagore, and also Munshi Premchand (need to see where I can find his books though here in the US.
But I also wanted to read other authors whom I had not before so this meant going through the internet searching for books and authors, and Anjali Banerjee was one such result. Looking for Bapu was the first book I found that was written by her; it was in the childrens’ section. I wondered whether I should read it but given my great experience with Rushdie’s books for children (Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Luka and the Fire of Life), I knew I should at least try to read it. The result was that I read it all in one sitting; and now am one satisfied reader with little gems of wisdom and humor floating around in my head.
Looking for Bapu tells the story of 8-year-old Anu as he deals with feelings of grief, guilt, fear, and loss after the death of his beloved grandpa, Bapu. Throughout the book, he researches fantastic websites (http://www.bring-back-dead-loved-ones.com) to find out various ways he can get his Bapu back as he is convinced that his Bapu is still there. His friends Unger, Izzy, and Andy help him in his endeavors.
The author depicts the way a child reacts very well here (I
can could easily see my then-8-year-old’s thinking wheels turning the same way asking similar questions) – the child’s inquisitive mind, his feeling of helplessness in the grand scheme of things, his faith, his goofiness and more. The way adults and friends react and try to help Anu are also very real and help the reader (whatever age) relate to the book and its characters.
In a post 9/11 US, as Anu deals with racism, he also realizes that being just a different skin color is not the only way you are different. One example of this follows.
Anu and his friends are looking for coffee mugs imprinted with names in a store (Adam, Alan, Amy, Betsy,….); both Izzy and Unger mention that there’s never an Izzy or Unger in these stores. Anu then realizes that while he ‘never bother(ed) to look‘ for his name in these stores, his friends ‘wouldn’t find their names either.’ That makes him ‘feel closer to them’ and ‘together in trouble, all of us with funny names…..’
- When a friend tells Anu – ‘I collect curiosities over the internet.’ He thinks – ‘I never knew you could collect curiosity. I guess that since Bapu died, my family has been collecting sadness.‘
- ‘Doesn’t this day know he has gone? Doesn’t it miss him the way I do?’
- ‘My dad is not what anyone calls him. My dad is just my dad. Is it brave to be what you are, I wonder? Brave to just be yourself?”
A sweet read, relevant when I first wrote this almost a decade ago (well 8 years), and relevant even today. I am looking forward to reading other books by Anjali Banerjee now (update: Aug, 2020; Sadly, yet to do as of today, so this statement remains true fully years later).
Get It Here
Would You Rather
Would you rather go back in time or to the future?
Answer: I know I will inevitably end up in the future anyways so I think I would go back to the past – hopefully I can pick the specific time(s).
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, do you know of any other books similar to this one? Books about grandparents and grandchildren; or any of the other themes?
As for me, another recent sweet read about grandparents and grandchildren was the picture book titled Old Man of the Sea.