Cover image for Homeless bird
Title:
Homeless bird
Author:
Whelan, Gloria.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First Harper Trophy edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperTrophy, 2001.

©2000
Physical Description:
186 pages ; 20 cm
Summary:
When thirteen-year-old Koly enters into an ill-fated arranged marriage, she must either suffer a destiny dictated by India's tradition or find the courage to oppose it.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
800 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.3 5.0 35670.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 10 Quiz: 21537 Guided reading level: X.
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780064408196
Format :
Book

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Central Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks
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Grand Island Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Young Adult
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North Collins Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Young Adult
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Orchard Park Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Reading List
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Anna M. Reinstein Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Reading List
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Audubon Library X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Work Room
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Summary

Summary

The National Book Award-winning novel about one remarkable young woman who dares to defy fate, perfect for readers who enjoyed A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park or Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.

Like many girls her age in India, thirteen-year-old Koly faces her arranged marriage with hope and courage. But Koly's story takes a terrible turn when in the wake of the ceremony, she discovers she's been horribly misled--her life has been sold for a dowry. Can she forge her own future, even in the face of time-worn tradition?

Perfect for schools and classrooms, this universally acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning novel by master of historical fiction Gloria Whelan is a gripping tale of hope that will transport readers of all ages.


Author Notes

Gloria Whelan was born on November 23, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan. She took a strong interest in reading early in life when she was bedridden for a year with rheumatic fever. She dictated stories to her sister who would then type them. She then went on to writing poetry and later editing her high school newspaper. She attended the University of Michigan and earned her B.S.degree and M.S.W. degree. She began working as a social worker in Minneapolis and Detroit. She soon became tired of Detroit's hectic pace and moved to a cabin in northern Michigan.This peace was disrupted by an oil company 's desire to drill on her property. Because she did not own the mineral rights, the drilling proceeded. This experience inspired Gloria Whelan to write her children's novel, A Clearing in the Forest in 1978, which was about a boy working on an oilrig. Gloria Whelan has written several works of fiction for children and adults, many set in rural Michigan. She has also written stories set in exotic places like China and India. She won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2000 for Homeless Bird - the story of a young woman in India abandoned by her mother-in-law.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. Thirteen-year-old Koly is getting married, not uncommon for girls her age in India. Although apprehensive, she knows this will lessen the financial burden on her family, and hopes for the best. Unfortunately, her husband is younger than promised, and sickly. Soon she is a homeless widow, deprived of her pension and abandoned by her selfish mother-in-law. She finds unexpected support in a widow's home, self-sufficiency in her gift of embroidery, and, ultimately, love and a new, rewarding life. This beautifully told, inspiring story takes readers on a fascinating journey through modern India and the universal intricacies of a young woman's heart. Whelan's lyrical, poetic prose, interwoven with Hindi words and terms, eloquently conveys Koly's tragedies and triumphs, while providing a descriptive, well-researched introduction to India's customs, peoples, and daily life. Koly is an appealing, admirable character, portrayed with sympathy and depth, who learns that art, heart, dreams, and perseverance can bring unexpected joy. Hindi terms are defined in an extensive glossary at book's end. An insightful, beautifully written, culturally illuminating tale of universal feelings in which riches are measured not in monetary wealth but in happiness and personal fulfillment. --Shelle Rosenfeld


Publisher's Weekly Review

Whelan (Miranda's Last Stand) blends modern Hindu culture with age-old Indian traditions as she profiles a poor girl's struggle to survive in a male-dominated society. Only 13 when her parents find her a husband, Koly can't help feeling apprehensive about leaving home to live in a distant village with her in-laws and husband, none of whom she has met. The truth is worse than she could have feared: the groom, Hari, is a sickly child, and his parents have wanted only a dowry, not a wife for him, in order to pay for a trip to Benares so Hari might bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges. Koly is widowed almost immediately; later, she is abandoned in the holy city of Vrindavan by her cruel mother-in-law. Koly, likened to a "homeless bird" in a famous poem by Rabindranath Tagore, embodies the tragic plight of Hindu women without status, family or financial security. She is saved from a dismal fate by her love of beauty, her talent for embroidery and the philanthropy of others--and by Whelan's tidy plotting, which introduces a virtuous young man, a savvy benefactress and a just employer in the nick of time. The feminist theme that dominates the happily-ever-after ending seems more American than Indian, but kids will likely enjoy this dramatic view of an endangered adolescence and cheer Koly's hard-won victories. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Thirteen-year-old Koly's arranged marriage seems a blessing for her impoverished family. Her mother embroiders a wedding sari, while the girl stitches her family memories into a quilt. But when she arrives at the home where, according to custom, she will live for the rest of her life under the supervision of her mother-in-law, she discovers that her 16-year-old husband Hari is gravely ill with tuberculosis. She learns that her dowry was needed to finance a journey to Benares, with the hope that the holy water of the Ganges River will cure him. Hari dies there and she is trapped, a widow with no future. Luckily, her father-in-law recognizes her desire to learn and teaches her to read. A few years later, when he, too, dies, her mother-in-law abandons her in another holy city, Vrindavan. Raji, a young rickshaw driver, helps Koly find a place to live and keeps track of her progress. Eventually, she finds work embroidering saris. Raji has a plan, and a dream. He wants to make enough money to buy seed and tools and return to his village, with Koly as his wife. In a happy ending that suggests that established custom can be challenged in positive ways, she agrees. Whelan has enhanced a simple but satisfying story with loving detail about traditional Indian life, the harsh reality of feudal customs that persist today, and the complexity of cultural change. Readers with a curiosity about other worlds and other ways will find Koly's story fascinating.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Homeless Bird Chapter One "Koly, you are thirteen and growing every day," Maa said to me. "It's time for you to have a husband." I knew why. There were days when my maa took only a bit of rice for herself so that the rest of us--my baap, my brothers, and I--might have more. "It's one of my days to fast," she would say, as if it were a holy thing, but I knew it was because there was not enough food to go around. The day I left home, there would be a little more for everyone else. I had known the day was coming, but the regret I saw in Maa's eyes made me tremble. My baap, like all fathers with a daughter to marry off, had to find a dowry for me. "It will be no easy task," he said with a sigh. Baap was a scribe. He sat all day in his marketplace stall hoping to make a few rupees by writing letters for those who did not know how to write their own. His customers had little money. Often from the goodness of his heart Baap would write the letter for only a rupee or two. When I was a small girl, he would sometimes let me stand beside him. I watched as the spoken words were written down to become like caged birds, caught forever by my clever baap. When they learned Maa and Baap were looking for a husband for me, my two brothers began to tease me. My older brother, Gopal, said, "Koly, when you have a husband, you will have to do as he tells you. You won't sit and daydream as you do now." My younger brother, Ram, whom I always beat at card games, said, "When you play cards with your husband, you'll have to lose every time." My brothers went to the boys' school in our village. Though there was a school for girls, I did not go there. I had begged to go, promising I would get up early and stay up late to do my work, but Maa said school was a waste for girls. "It will be of no use to you after you are married. The money for books and school fees is better put toward your dowry, so that we may find you a suitable husband." When I stole looks into my brothers' books, I saw secrets in the characters I could not puzzle out. When I begged them to teach me the secrets, they laughed at me. Gopal complained, "I have to sit in a hot schoolroom all day and have my knuckles rapped if I look out the window. You are the lucky one." Ram said, "When a girl learns to read, her hair falls out, her eyes cross, and no man will look at her." Still, I turned over the pages of my brothers' books. When Maa sent me into the village for some errand, I lingered under the windows of the school to listen to the students saying their lessons aloud. But the lessons were not like measles. I did not catch them. My maa had no use for books. When she was not taking care of the house, she spent her time embroidering. Like her maa before her, and her maa, and as far back as anyone could remember, the women in our family embroidered. All their thoughts and dreams went into their work. Maa embroidered the borders for saris sold in our marketplace. One sari might take many weeks, for a sari stretched all the way across the room. Because it took so long, each sari became a part of our lives. As soon as I could work with a needle, I was allowed to stitch simple designs. As I grew older, Maa gave me peacocks and ducks to embroider. When the border was finished, Maa took the sari to the marketplace. Then there would be rupees to spare in the house. Now Maa sat with a length of red muslin for my wedding sari on her lap. Because he valued her work, the shopkeeper had sold the sari to Maa for a good price. She was embroidering a border of lotus flowers, a proper border for a wedding sari, because the lotus pod's many seeds are scattered to the wind, suggesting wealth and plenty. Relatives and friends began to search for a bridegroom. A part of me hoped they would be successful and that someone wanted me. A part of me hoped that no one in the world would want me enough to take me away from my home and my maa and baap and brothers. I knew that after my marriage, I would have to make my home with the family of my husband. For my dowry I began to embroider a quilt, making all my worries stitches, and all the things I would have to leave behind pictures to take with me. I embroidered my maa in her green sari and my baap on the bicycle that took him to the marketplace every morning. My brothers played at soccer with a ball they had fashioned from old rags. I added the feathery leaves of the tamarind tree that stood in the middle of our courtyard and our cow under its shade. I put in the sun that beat down on the courtyard and the clouds that gathered before the rains. I put myself at the courtyard well, where I was sent many times each day to get water. I stitched the marketplace stalls heaped with turmeric and cinnamon and cumin and mustard. I embroidered vegetable stalls with purple eggplants and green melons. I made the barber cutting hair, the dentist pulling teeth, the man who cleaned ears, and the man with the basket of cobras. Because I was kept busy at all my other tasks, the stitching took many weeks. While I stitched, I wondered what my husband would be like. Stories were told of girls having to marry old men, but I did not think Maa and Baap would let that happen to me. In my daydreams I hoped for someone who was handsome and who would be kind to me. My older brother said, "We're too poor to buy you a decent husband." My younger brother said, "There is sure to be something wrong with anyone who agrees to marry you." Homeless Bird . Copyright © by Gloria Whelan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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