Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan
Naima is a young girl living in rural Bangladeshi village with her family. She helps around the house, can’t go to school anymore, but loves to paint beautiful alpanas, patterns that Bangladeshi women and girls paint in their homes for special occasions. She does the best alpanas in the village, but what she really wants is to earn money for her family, the way her friend Saleem does driving his father’s rickshaw, but she can’t do that, being a girl. Still, she has to do something! This book, which is at the younger age of MG reading-level-wise but enjoyable by older kids as well, has nice, clear writing that flows nicely, and a good girl-power storyline, supplemented with interesting illustrations. The exotic setting of Bangladesh is not only interesting, but will also teach young readers about a place that is different from their homes.