Finders Keepers? A True Story in India written by Robert Arnett and illustrated by Smita Turakhia was sent to most of the elementary schools in Nashville, Tennessee. Thanks to the donation by Dr. C. K. Hiranya Gowda and Mrs. Saraswathi Devi Gowda through the Indian American Education Foundation, my school received a copy of this Atman Press title. © 2003 ISBN: 978-0965290029
A letter accompanied the donation from the Indian American Education Foundation which is dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and appreciation through education between the Indian American community and mainstream America. I was pleased to receive this title which had received these awards:
- The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval
- Mom’s Choice Award: Best Educational Picture Book
- Benjamin Franklin Silver Award: Best Multicultural Book of the Year
- Independent Publisher Book Awards: Ten Outstanding Books of the Year and Most Inspirational to Youth Book Award
I confess, I hadn’t heard of this title or this publisher, but I immediately could picture several students who would benefit from reading Finders Keepers? The letter suggested we write a letter to thank the donors, but I decided it would be even better to blog about and review Finders Keepers? so that others could order their own copy.
Robert Arnett is the author of India Unveiled, a travelogue with award winning photography. Finders Keepers? is a true story based upon an incident during travel when Arnett lost his wallet. When it was returned to him by a child, Arnett could not understand the child’s view that he did not deserve a reward for returning what was not his. That incident comes late in the story as the beginning short chapters introduce us to the uniqueness of India. While this book conveys a message, it’s strength lies in its simply describing Indian culture and the people.
Smita Turakhia brings Finders Keepers? to life through her colorful paintings. As a review in SLJ states these are “sumptuous jewel-toned paintings with Indian motifs.” The illustrations’ beauty lies not just in their accuracy but in the respectful way Indian culture is embraced. I have read many titles set in India which have overwhelming artwork with thousands of details. Smita Turakhia’s paintings balance beauty with the simplicity of the message. The faces are individual yet distinct and remind me of several different Indian families I have met in Nashville. It is obvious Smita Turakhia brings a love of her native Indian culture to her work for children.
I am grateful to the donors and author Robert Arnett. I believe this title is a beautiful addition to any school library collection. I’m interested in finding out more about how this title has ended up in 6,000 school libraries so far so I’m off to email the authors.
Join their Facebook Page. Have you received a copy? I am interested in who has and who hasn’t.