No Ordinary DayBook - 2011
Shortlisted for the SYRCA 2013 Diamond Willow Award, selected as an American Library Association 2012 Notable Children's Book, a Booklist Editors' Choice, nominated for the OLA Golden Oak Tree Award, and a finalist for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards: Young Adult/Middle Reader Award, the Governor General's Literary Awards: Children's Text and the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award
There's not much that upsets young Valli. Even though her days are spent picking coal and fighting with her cousins, life in the coal town of Jharia, India, is the only life she knows. The only sight that fills her with terror are the monsters who live on the other side of the train tracks -- the lepers. Valli and the other children throw stones at them. No matter how hard her life is, she tells herself, at least she will never be one of them.
Then she discovers that she is not living with family after all, that her "aunt" was a stranger who was paid money to take Valli off her own family's hands. She decides to leave Jharia . . . and so begins a series of adventures that takes her to Kolkata, the city of the gods.
It's not so bad. Valli finds that she really doesn't need much to live. She can "borrow" the things she needs and then pass them on to people who need them more than she does. It helps that though her bare feet become raw wounds as she makes her way around the city, she somehow feels no pain. But when she happens to meet a doctor on the ghats by the river, Valli learns that she has leprosy. Despite being given a chance to receive medical care, she cannot bear the thought that she is one of those monsters she has always feared, and she flees, to an uncertain life on the street.
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SPL_Childrens thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 13
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12-year-old Valli, who lives in India, does not attend school. Though she longs to go to school and learn, her family has no money to spare for school fees. Instead, Valli works. All day – and every day – she picks up pieces of coal, left behind by workers at the coal mine.
When Valli discovers that the people with whom she lives aren’t her real family after all, she decides to leave the coal town. After hitching a ride to Kolkata, she lives on the streets. Valli soon learns to be quite self-sufficient, cadging and “borrowing” the things that she needs, and passing them on to others when she is finished. She is quite proud of her self-sufficiency and independence.
For some time, Valli, who doesn’t own shoes, has noticed that her feet never feel pain or the cold. One day she happens to meet a doctor who tells her why. The nerves in her feet have been destroyed by leprosy, which will worsen unless she is treated for a long time in a hospital. The doctor knows of a special hospital where the treatment will be free.
However, Valli must first learn to trust the doctor. She must admit that she isn’t as self-sufficient as she would like to be, that it is okay to accept help when you truly need it… and that there is no shame in having a disease such as leprosy.
Author Deborah Ellis, from Simcoe, Ontario, has won numerous Canadian awards for her stories of children around the world and the dangers and conditions under which they live. She is best known for her Breadwinner trilogy of stories about children living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
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