Seaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee
I am so glad to have found this book! So many books featuring Indian main characters are best for teens or tweens, but this is completely appropriate for third and fourth graders. Besides, it features animals which is usually a big hit with kids that age.
Poppy has always dreamed of being a veterinarian. This summer she’s getting one step closer to her goal. While her parents make their annual trip to visit family back in India, Poppy is staying with her Uncle Sanjay, a real vet. But as soon as she gets to the island, things start going wrong. Uncle Sanjay’s dog is too exuberant for Poppy’s taste. The tailgate of his truck is broken and her suitcase falls out and opens into a stream. Among the lost items is the real vet kit Poppy saved up for. And worst of all, when she gets to the clinic, Poppy just can’t seem to get anything right. Over the course of the summer, Poppy learns how to get closer to her goal and that things aren’t always as simple as they seem.
I would have liked to see the relationship between uncle and niece more developed, but overall it was a cute book. I also appreciated that while Poppy is certainly Indian and her culture is mentioned throughout, it’s not an issues book. I feel like it can be hard to find books about minorities that have themes other than dealing with issues relative to belonging to a particular culture. While these books are important, it’s also good to be able to offer children books where the culture is present without the issues being the main focus. For children, books that move away from the issues can help make other cultures seem more accessible because they can connect with other aspects of the book, and then once they are interested in learning more can move on to weightier books.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – There’s some discussion of neutering dogs and dog testicles. Puppies are born.
Profanity– A woman curses under her breath, but we don’t know what she says.
“That bites.” “sucked”.
Death, Violence and Gore – Working at a clinic can be gory at times. There’s a dog that has been hit by a car and a mummified baby kitten. An animal has a badly cut paw. Uncle Sanjay tells of when he saw a cow with an eyeball hanging from a socket. An older animal must be put to sleep. All of these issues are handled in a respectful way, with emphasis on the life cycle.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – None.