Author Shannon Whitney Messenger began Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays a while back. If you love middle grade literature, check out her blog on Mondays for a list of other sites featuring MG books.
Today I’ll talk about Vanished by Sheela Chari.
From Goodreads: Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrumentused to be her grandmother’s—made of warm, rich wood, and intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon. When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, Neela is devastated. As she searches for it, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar-looking dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela’s intrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. If she is able to track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?
From Vicki: This book is sooooo up my alley. Multi-cultural elements. Music. Mystery. An exotic setting (at the end). And it did not disappoint.
Neela’s love/hate relationship with her veena reminded me of my own middle school years with my oboe. I only wish my oboe had such a history! I was taken enough by the story that I had to look up veenas online to see if I was picturing the traditional Indian instrument correctly.
And like any great middle grade novel, this is a coming of age story. Neela discovers herself and the person she wants to be while uncovering the mystery of her missing veena.
What’s your favorite book that combines a “foreign” culture and the arts?