This is the story of a storyteller - an eleven year old boy called Gopal. He loves to read and write and tell stories to his siblings. His is not an easy life in a poor rural village in India. His family cannot pay their debts so they have to flee in the middle of the night - looking for a better life in Mumbai. Gopal cannot say good-bye to his friend, he leaves hoping for a fresh life in the big city.
When Gopal meets a strange youth near his Uncle's shack who offers him work he jumps at the offer, knowing anything he can bring home will help his family. But it is a trick and Gopal finds himself locked away in a shed with other boys gluing beads onto photo frames. The boys are forbidden to talk or to call each other by their names. Gopal quickly creates nicknames for all the people - the strict and cruel foreman, each of the boys. His story telling abilities soon bring him friends but there are some who see his ability to read and write as a real threat. Locked away from his family, in squalid working condition, Gopal discovers an inner strength and a hope that does not fade despite his circumstances.
I recommend this book for so many reasons. It has a very real issue at its heart - child slavery. It is very well written. It will make for great discussion with all who read it.
Kashmira Sheth's Blog
An interview with Kashmira Sheth