Friday, November 20, 2009

Review: A Gift for Gita

This is the second year in a row that we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving away from family.  Some of you may be traveling to see relatives this week.  Others may have family visiting  for a short time.  It can be difficult to feel torn between the people and place you grew up and where you now call home, and hard to say goodbye, albeit temporarily, to family.  The book I'm reviewing today isn't about Thanksgiving, but it is about family, and being separated from family by distance.  It is particularly well suited for children from other countries (India especially), but I think it could also be enjoyed by children whose grandparents live in other parts of the U.S.

A Gift for Gita (Paperback), by Rachna Gilmore. This is a sweet book about a girl named Gita who moves from India with her family. The story begins with a gift that her grandmother ("Naniji") has brought her from India - a set of nesting dolls. Naniji's visit is nearing its end when Gita's Papa receives a letter notifying him of a job offer back in India. Gita realizes that the U.S. is her home now. "When had she stopped missing India? When she and Amy became friends? When she first skated on the frozen canal? Gita opened her doll, took out the next one and the next, right down to the centre. It was like that inside her, so many moments, different parts of her - making the baseball team, camping in the Rockies, her first taste of pizza, planting roses with Mr. Finch next door . . . India was now a blur of distant colour and voices, an echo. Here was full and clear, loud and now. Home." Gita's family feels the same way, and decides to stay in the U.S. Gita asks her Naniji to stay with them, but she explains that her home is in India (see excerpt). They have a sweet goodbye, in which Gita is assured that part of of her Naniji is always with her.


"Naniji smoothed Gita's hair. 'My home's back in India,' she said softly. 'I love it there, just as you love it here. It's where I belong. All the parts of my life are there, and all my memories - everything except you.' 'You can make new memories. Here.' 'I already have. To take back and keep with the ones I have of you there.' Gita tried to smile. Naniji always smiled when saying goodbye, she never cried."

Bookworm's interest at 22 months: None really. He's too young. Reading level: ages 4-8 .

For companion activities and discussion questions, see the "Teachers Take Note" page on the publisher's website.  (Among other things, children create their own personal flags.  Fun!  I'd imagine if we try this tomorrow, we'll end up with a yellow flag with a car on it).

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Thank you to Tilbury House for sending us a copy of a Gift for Gita to review.  Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post to will provide us a modest commission through our affiliate relationship with  


Raising a Happy Child said...

Interesting book - I should recommend it to my coworkers many of which really struggle with the situation described in the story. I find it really strange, however, that the grandma gave her nesting dolls - it's not an Indian thing as far as I know. I should ask my Indian friends about it.
We are one of those split families as well. We are in CA, my parents are in NJ, and my in-laws are in Germany. My parents are coming to visit us for Thanksgiving, and I can't wait!

Infant Bibliophile said...

That's a great point about the nesting dolls. I never thought about that...

maryanne said...

Emma might like this book. One of my sisters lives nearby, but the rest of both sides of the family are far away...

I like the idea of children making personal flags =)