We’re delighted to announce the reprint of Dear Mrs. Naidu (2014) from our Young Zubaan collection! Written by the brilliant Mathangi Subramanian, this children’s novel has received acclaim as an innovative tale about complex issues. Here are our top five favourite things about the book, that’ll make any reader fall in love with it.
Dear Mrs. Naidu is an Indian epistolary children’s novel in English, which makes it a rare work of fiction. Epistolary novels can be narrated through newspaper clippings, notes or diary entries. In this case, the story is narrated entirely in letters, from the 12-year-old Sarojini to the Indian freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu. Drawing parallels between the struggles of the two Sarojinis, the book tells us much more about Sarojini Naidu than our history books ever did!
Set in the slums of Bangalore, the novel delves into the lives and relationships of people from marginalized communities. With well-rounded multidimensional characters, the book shows that inequality is not just about being rich and poor, or going to a better school. It talks about the Right to Education Act, simplifying it enough to be understood by children, and yet showing the obstacles in making quality education accessible to all children.
“Deepti is a fighter… Like Amma, like Vimala Madam, like you Mrs Naidu.”
With a single mother resiliently protecting her daughter and community, two young girls fighting for their right to quality education, and a successful human rights lawyer using her privilege to help the community, this book has no dearth of strong female characters. Likening them to Sarojini Naidu shows that women (and girls) can be strong and powerful.
These are just some of the things that make Dear Mrs Naidu an exceptional read, for kids and adults alike. But don’t just take our word for it! You can hear all about it from Sarojini, in her latest letter to Mrs. Naidu.
Dear Mrs. Naidu,
I just found out that during your lifetime, you wrote a lot of letters. You wrote to family, friends, freedom fighters – even famous people. After you died passed on stopped writing, all of your letters were published in a book. Now, if people want to get to know you, they can read about you in your own words.
Guess what? My letters were published too! This is something else we have in common, besides or first names.
The only letters I’ve ever written have been to you, and the only story I have so far is how I fought to change my school so I could keep Amir as my best friend. It’s a story you already know because even though you never once wrote back to me, you helped me figure out what to do along the way.
Here is why other people like my story: it’s about friendship, but it’s also about growing up. It’s about becoming a fighter, even if you are only a twelve-year-old girl who lives in a house without a proper roof and goes to a school without a proper compound. It’s about making friends with people you never thought you’d be friends with – like dead passed on former freedom fighters, or girls who live at construction sites, or Aunties who make so much noise that sometimes it’s hard to hear when they actually make sense. (Which is more of the time than you would think, Mrs. Naidu.)
Lots of kids are reading my our letters. Lots of grownups are too. Some of them want to learn about the Right to Education Act, or about what it’s like to grow up in a slum, or about what it’s like to be a twelve-year-old girl. But most of them are reading our letters because they like a really good story.
Our story is a really good story, Mrs. Naidu. You know why?
Because it’s a story about changing the world.
All the Best,