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In every class, there’s a kid who’s a little bit different, a little bit on the ‘slow’ side. When she first sees Sushmita, with her sweet round face and innocent eyes, the principal of Rugged Rocks High is worried. “Putting that lovely child amongst our kids? It’s like putting adugong into a tank of barracudas.” And she’s right to worry!
But Sushmita has other ways to fight back against bullies, and somehow, having her among them changes all the children’s lives – for the better.
In The Dugong and the Barracudas, Ranjit Lal tackles the subject of prejudice, bullying and ‘special needs’ with his signature blend of humour and insight, challenging young readers to step out of their own skins and see the world through someone else’s eyes.
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Twelve-year-old Sarojini’s best friend, Amir, might not be her best friend any more. Ever since Amir moved out of the slum and started going to a posh private school, it seems like he and Sarojini have nothing in common. Then Sarojini finds out about the Right to Education, a law that might help her get a free seat at Amir’s school – or, better yet, convince him to come back to a new and improved version of the government school they went to together. As she struggles to keep her best friend, Sarojini gets help from some unexpected characters, including Deepti, a feisty classmate who lives at a construction site; Vimala Madam, a human rights lawyer who might also be an evil genius; and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, a long-dead freedom fighter who becomes Sarojini’s secret pen pal. Told through letters to Mrs. Naidu, this is the story of how Sarojini learns to fight – for her friendship, her family, and her future.
When fifteen-year-old Samir discovers that he's got new neighbours, he's horrified: he's left certain 'secret documents' in their flat, which should not be seen by anyone - and especially not by a cute girl his own age like Akhila Handa! But to Samir's surprise and relief, Akhila is amazingly sporting about them, and pretty soon their friendship blossoms as Samir gets to know the family: the bouncy boxer dog, Akhila's younger brother Sumit, who is 'a bit slow', and their strangely withdrawn mother. And most of all, her jolly, affectionate father who dotes upon his daughter.
Dotes, perhaps, a little too much...
Samir slowly comes to realise that all is far from well in the Handa family, and an incredible and terrible suspicion begins to form.
Smitten is a story that dares to talk about sexual abuse within the family. It is a story of love, and its opposite. Of bravery and cowardice. Of tough decisions and loyalties sorely tested.
With characteristic lightness and sureness of touch, Ranjit Lal tackles one of the great taboos in Indian society. A must for every school library and bookshelf, the book includes discussion points and questions to facilitate conversations in the classroom or at home.