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Finders Keepers?: A True Story in India
Illustrated by Smita Turakhia
"Finders Keepers?" by Robert Arnett has been honored with the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award of the Publishers Marketing Association for Best Multicultural Book of the Year, the Independent Publisher Outstanding Book of the Year, and the Seal of Approval of the National Parenting Center. This book is better for school-age children, as it really provides a geography lesson, a study in ethics and a brief insight into Indian culture.
The book tells the true story of an experience the author had while traveling through India. He had just bought some postcards when a young Indian boy tapped him on the elbow and held out Arnett's wallet, which the boy had picked up when the author accidentally dropped it. The man thanked him and offered him a reward, but the boy refused to take any money, insisting that he should not be rewarded just for doing the right thing.
I'm in LOVE with the brightly colored illustrations by Indian-born Smita Turakhia, who said she was inspired by memories of the place where she spent her childhood. In fact, even the youngest kids enjoy looking at the pictures, so I skip some of the more technical stuff when I read it to them.
My mom got this book for me and I love it. I shared with whole class and my teacher read the book to us. They liked the meaning of NAMASTE and the colorful pictures. My favorite part is the honest boy who teaches you honesty in a very simple way.
This book is about a man who's on vacation to India. I learned many interesting things about India from it.
For example, I learned that a toran is something that is hung over a doorway to welcome God and guests. Torans are made of fresh flowers and leaves. Torans can be seen all across the country.
One thing I learned is that to say "hello" or "goodbye," it is called namaste. And how you do it is to get your hands together like you're praying and bow your head.
I also learned that there are a lot of bats in India that like to hang in the daylight in trees.
In the story, the man drops his wallet and a little boy finds it and gives it to him. And then the man tries to reward him with money. But the boy didn't want the money. So the man asks a man who knows English and the boy's language to ask the boy why he doesn't want the money. The man tells him that the boy doesn't understand why he should be rewarded for giving him his wallet.
They have great pictures in this book. I think other people should read it too.
Featuring Smita Turakhia's striking, stylized color artwork throughout, Finders Keepers? A True Story in India is a picture book filled cover to cover with scenes from daily life in India. Finders Keepers? enriches its educational value with a glossary, pronunciations of Indian words, facts about India, and a step-by-step craft activity to make a paper toran (meant to be hung over a doorway in order welcome guests). One anecdote in particular stands out as a strong indication of a virtuous cultural tenet: "I offered the boy a reward for returning my wallet, but he would not accept it... A man passing by stopped to watch us. I asked him if he could speak English and if he could help me... the man turned to me and said, 'This boy does not understand why you should give him any money for returning to you what is yours. The idea of accepting a reward for doing the right thing makes no sense to him.' Finders keepers? No way!" Finders Keepers? is highly recommended as a wonderful addition to children's multicultural picture book shelves, whether as a personal gift or part of a public library collection.
A true story, Finders Keepers? was inspired by the honesty of one young boy in India who found the author's lost wallet and could not understand why he should be rewarded for returning to Arnett what was his. The concept of accepting a reward for doing the right thing made no sense to him! This colorful glimpse into India provides a meaningful way to better understand people of a different land, and it is an excellent multicultural book for today's children growing up in a global society in which they will have to develop positive interactions with people from all walks of life.
First Sentence: This book is dedicated to the silent voice within each of us that prompts us to do what is right.
Finders Keepers? is like a travelogue as it captures the author's trip to India. He details how he got to Rajasthan (RAH-juh-stahn) in northwest India and then he tells of some of the places he visited. The story opens with a toran (TOH-run), a traditional piece hung over a doorway to greet God and guests. About Indian people, Arnett writes, "Throughout history, the people of Rajasthan have been admired for their bravery, sense of honor, loyalty, and love of freedom."
I love this book. It is positive, informative, and enlightening. In movies and shows, travel in India has been depicted as crowded, odiferous, and unfriendly. Mr. Arnett paints a different picture. Yes, the bus was crowded, and yes, the number of people traveling was more than the number of seats, causing men and older boys to ride on the bus' roof. Inside the bus, he describes a much different picture. People are happy, cordial, smiling, and polite. They share the food each brought for the long trip, and help each other with the children so parents could have a respite, if only for a while.
The clothing worn by both women and men is bright and colorful, making the bus look like a party or celebration. The people care about each other, look out for one another, and do their best making a long, crowded trip, bearable. About this busload of strangers, Mr. Arnett wrote: "How beautiful to look upon everyone you meet as part of your family and being as dear to you as a brother, a sister, or a parent."
Mr. Arnett describes some of the rest stops the bus made, each time enjoying the experience- glass of hot milk and sugar, cooked in an outdoor cauldron and skillfully poured, tasted like a milkshake-and describing what he sees. At one stop, harmless flying foxes hang upside down on low, accessible branches. At another, on the highest peak in Rajasthan, a temple sat.
It is at the base of this peak that Mr. Arnett lost his wallet. A young boy quickly sees it and immediately returns it. Mr. Arnett tries several times to give the boy a reward. Thinking that maybe a language barrier was blocking communication, he asks an English speaking Indian to intervene. Mr. Arnett learns the young boy does not understand why he should get a reward for returning something that belonged to someone else, saying returning the wallet was the right thing to do.
"The right thing to do." There were no heroics, no possibility of harm to the boy, and his actions cost him nothing. He returned the wallet because it was the right thing to do, the moral thing to do, and simply put, the wallet belonged to Mr. Arnett. That is powerful and a message that many of us need to understand, especially since we really do live in a small world.
The author does not say all Indians behave like this young man. He says this is an important value Indian people try to live by. It is understandable why he wanted to write his first children's book about this experience. Previously, Mr. Arnett wrote India Unveiled, a compendium of everything India, including cultural, social, and religious, and including a multitude of pictures.
Finders Keepers? is from India Unveiled, re-written for children. My understanding is this is the
first in a series about India for children. ¿Es mio? is the Spanish language version of Finders Keepers?.
The illustrations are bright, lively, and beautifully detailed Indian motifs. The center spread is a gorgeous illustration of the world with several cultures represented. I would love to have this in a frame. It speaks volumes about tolerance and the new global interactions that are becoming everyday personal experiences in the workplace and in our personal lives.
At the back of the book parents and children-and teachers-will find definitions and pronunciations of select words, questions children can ask of themselves or be used in the classroom, interesting facts about India, and directions for making your own toran.
Cover to cover Finders Keepers? richly depicts India artistically and in prose. Between author Arnett and illustrator Smita Turakhia, Finders Keepers? teaches multicultural understanding, tolerance, and respect, while highlighting the Indian way of life. One Indian principle that of great important states we should do what is right, regardless of the situation. That term is dharma (DHUR-muh), "Do what you ought to do, not what you want to do."
Finders Keepers? is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom's Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, Ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times Best-Selling Author; LeAnn Thieman, Motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books; Tara Paterson, Certified Parent Coach, and founder of the Mom's Choice Awards. Parents and educators look for the Mom s Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families. This book has been honored by this distinguished award.
Finders Keepers? A True Story in India is a refreshing change from the bulk of children's books that fail to present a moral or even a solid point as a take-away. By contrast, Robert Arnett has presented an interesting, educational story that delivers an important, character-building message about honesty and doing what's right.
The narrative opens with the author riding on a crowded bus over a bumpy road to Mt. Abu, located near the northwest coast of India. Men, boys, and luggage are piled on top of the bus, because it's filled to capacity with families. Inside, the passengers are so friendly-even sharing food and passing around babies to strangers-that they quickly become like one big, traveling family. The author is surprised to see that when a man takes off his turban, on top of his head sets a bag lunch. From a walled fort to roosting bats in trees, the journey is interesting, indeed.
The main plot point occurs when an Indian boy taps on Arnett's elbow to get his attention, then holds out the wallet he lost while shopping. As many Americans would do, Arnett opens his wallet, withdraws some cash, and offers it to the boy as a reward for his honesty. This is when the boy delivers his second surprise: he refuses the reward. Thinking the boy must not understand his intentions, Arnett finds someone to translate. But the result is that the lad simply doesn't understand why he should be rewarded for honesty-for doing the right thing-and again, he declines the money.
This presents an opportunity for parents, educators, and other adults to have a meaningful discussion with children on what makes good character. At the end of the book is a short section called, "Food For Thought," which presents good conversation starters. In addition, there are facts about India. I appreciate that the author provides the definition and pronunciation to each Indian word used, right within the text. I equally appreciate the maps drawn by the illustrator.
Author Robert Arnett is an internationally acclaimed author. Finders Keepers? is the winner of multiple book awards, including Mom's Choice Best Educational Picture Book, and it was one of the Independent Publisher Outstanding Books of the Year.
Illustrator Smita Turakhia has enhanced the book with beautiful paintings for each page. Her attention to authentic detail and use of brilliant color adds to the educational value and interest. Each page is a visual delight.
Personally, I would love to see the author have fun with interesting action verbs. For example, instead of "going up" the path, maybe he climbed or trudged or wandered. I also couldn't help but notice the excessive number of helping verbs that could have been eliminated to tighten up the writing. Nevertheless, this does not hinder the value of the story.
Finders Keepers? is also available in Spanish. Because of the international theme of the book, the Spanish edition would make a good gift for those in Spanish-speaking countries as well as the United States.
Young children will enjoy having this book read to them, while older ones will like reading it for themselves. Even though it is a picture book, adults may find it enjoyable as well.
Finders Keepers? A True Story in India
Illustrated by Smita Turakhia
Soft cover available from Amazon.com
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