Looking for Bapu

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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?


—A Capitol Choices Noteworthy Book
—Nominated for Hawaii’s 2008 Nene Award
—Nominated for Washington Library Media Association’s 2009 Sasquatch Reading Award
—Chosen for 2009 Global Reading Challenge lists for the Seattle Public Library, King County
Library System, Kalamazoo Public Library System, and the Fraser Valley Regional Library

“[A] moving story about surviving an unexpected, shocking loss.”
—Horn Book Magazine

“Imaginative…hilarious… An excellent read aloud.”

“Tender…touching and believable…This perceptive exploration of one child’s grief demonstrates that grief is a universal emotion that flows through all cultures.”
—Publishers Weekly

“[Anu’s] adaptation of mystical ways…adds spice and humor to the story…The post-September 11th setting realistically reveals the stereotypes and bias confronting the protagonist’s family and friends without being overbearing. A visit to the mystery museum brings the story to a satisfying conclusion…many readers will see this novel as a window to a culture they know little about.”
—School Library Journal

“This touching (and at times humorous) story of a young boy coping with death is also a wonderful introduction to Indian culture. Woven seamlessly into the story are the Hindu gods and goddesses that Bapu worships and many Hindi traditions and customs. This is a wonderful addition to any school library. Recommended.”
—Children’s Literature

“What’s unusual here? First, cross-generational religious differences come into play…Second, Anu mourns with the help of his friends: schoolmate Unger, and Izzy…And Bapu’s death, Auntie Biku’s visit from India and Anu’s plan to transform himself into a sadhu, or holy man, play out right after 9/11. Anjali Banerjee deftly keeps all this in balance. We never lose sight of either the serious issues – the family’s loss and love – or the comedic ones – on an 8-year-old’s rocky path to becoming a holy man.”
—Mary Harris Russell, The Chicago Tribune

“Sophisticated and very likable.”
—Katie Haegele, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A sensitive look at one boy’s struggle in dealing with his grandfather’s death…[Banerjee’s] crisp, imaginative writing considers spiritual matters in a way appropriate for young people…Anu’s searching takes him through hilarious escapades and touching moments of insight.”
—Steve Johnson, The Wichita Eagle

“The richness of this story is beyond the scope of any review. The writing style is both polished…and appropriate for young readers. The exploration of relationships…is fascinating and well-developed. But the cultural windows that Looking for Bapu offer are in some ways the story’s most valuable quality. Readers can see how different we are: Hindu beliefs, lifestyle and values are portrayed and contrasted with Western ways of being (embodied not least by Anu’s parents). An equally important message, though, is how we are all the same: grief, love and perseverance unite us all, regardless of age, culture or religion. Although set in the American Pacific Northwest, this story would be a rewarding addition to any Canadian study of multiculturalism for Grades Three through Five.” Highly recommended/****
—Michelle Superle, Canadian Review of Materials

“Looking for Bapu is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book. Though Ms. Banerjee addresses such heavy ideas as death, racism, and god, Looking for Bapu is an uplifting, almost magical, read. Children who have lost loved ones will find an empathetic friend in Anu.”
—Pooja Makhijani, Kahani, a South Asian literary magazine for children

“This story is great on many levels. Any child or adult who loses a loved one can relate to the pain and almost agonizing search for wanting them back home… They can also relate to a small child on a mission of a great adventure with fun and mystery.”
—Natasha Jaksich, The Tacoma Weekly

“A fabulous book to have on hand. Well-written, engaging, and understandable.”
—fusenumber8 blog