Ravi (pronounced rah-VEE) just moved to Hamilton, NJ from India with his parents and grandparents. On the first day of school, Ravi notices Dillon Samreen immediately as someone who is also Indian and thinks they will become fast friends. Little does Ravi know that even if it's only the first week of fifth grade, a lot can happen between Monday's chicken nuggets and Friday's pizza.
Then there's Joe. Not only has Joe had his fill of being bullied over the years, especially from Dillon, he now has to deal with his Mom being the new lunch monitor. Life is not easy for Joe but that doesn't stop him for sticking up for Ravi. When no one else pronounces Ravi's name correctly, Joe does in his head. He even tries to get others to do the same. As a reader, I wanted to make sure I was saying it right, also, so when Joe kept practicing it in his head I noticed that I was, too. rah-VEE. rah-VEE. rah-VEE.
I caught myself biting my nails and screaming inside for Ravi to discover the true Dillon and a friend in Joe. To the end, I was cheering hopelessly for our zebra heroes to outsmart the crocodile with thoughts that nothing could be worse than chili day, or can it?
Each chapter bounces back between Ravi's and Joe's voice, making this a truly awe-SOME, don't-want-to-let-go, read.
I want to:
- Eat some Indian food (glad there is a recipe in the back of the book) and peanut M&Ms
- Call up Sarah and Gita and say, "Great book. Your collaboration worked!"
- Go out and get a copy for my library and all my young Sarah Weeks fans
But here is what I do instead:
- Sit on my hands and drum up some patience since the book doesn't come out till May 10, 2016
- Write this up and make note to remind folks in May to pick it up
I have been a Sarah Weeks fan since the Oggie Cooder days. Now, not only am I a Weeks fan but a Varadarajan fan, too. I look forward to seeing what they both could be dreaming up for the future. Until then, I'll be in my kitchen whipping up some naan khatais with a side of apple crisp.