I’m partial to books with strong girl protagonists, so I loved Mitali Perkins’ RICKSHAW GIRL. Naima is a young girl growing up in Bangladesh, living a life marked by both her family’s poverty and her appreciation for color and beauty. As the best alpana painter in her village, Naima has a unique gift — a gift that she initially sees as irrelevant to her family’s financial problems. But Naima is a spitfire – a girl who can’t settle for fitting into the mold her society has created for her.
Perkins’ exploration of gender roles and the creative thinking challenging those roles in modern day Bangladesh is both poignant and accessible to young readers. Her themes of self-determination and community are presented within the context of a story that has beautiful sensory language, vivid characters, and some great surprises along the way.