by Robert Arnett
illustrated by Smita Turakhia
Press Release: A true story, Finder’s Keepers? was inspired by the honesty of one young boy in India who found the author’s lost wallet and could not understand why he should be rewarded for returning to Arnett what was his. The concept of accepting a reward for doing the right thing made no sense to him! This colorful glimpse into India provides a meaningful way to better understand people of a different land, and it is an excellent multicultural book for today’s children growing up in a global society in which they will have to develop positive interactions with people from all walks of life.
First Sentence: This book is dedicated to the silent voice within each of us that prompts us to do what is right.
Finders Keepers is like a travelogue as it captures the author’s trip to India. He details how he got to Rajasthan (RAH-juh-stahn) in northwest India and then he tells of some of the places he visited. The story opens with a toran (TOH-run), a traditional piece hung over a doorway to greet God and guests. About Indian people, Arnett writes,
“Throughout history, the people of Rajasthan have been admired for their bravery, sense of honor, loyalty, and love of freedom.”
I love this book. It is positive, informative, and enlightening. In movies and shows, travel in India has been depicted as crowded, odiferous, and unfriendly. Mr. Arnett paints a different picture. Yes, the bus was crowded, and yes, the number of people traveling was more than the number of seats, causing men and older boys to ride on the bus’ roof. Inside the bus, he describes a much different picture. People are happy, cordial, smiling, and polite. They share the food each brought for the long trip, and help each other with the children so parents could have a respite, if only for a while.
The clothing worn by both women and men is bright and colorful, making the bus look like a party or celebration. The people care about each other, look out for one another, and do their best making a long, crowded trip, bearable. About this busload of strangers, Mr. Arnett wrote:
“How beautiful to look upon everyone you meet as part of your family and being as dear to you as a brother, a sister, or a parent.”
Mr. Arnett describes some of the rest stops the bus made, each time enjoying the experience—glass of hot milk and sugar, cooked in an outdoor cauldron and skillfully poured, tasted like a milkshake—and describing what he sees. At one stop, harmless flying foxes hang upside down on low, accessible branches. At another, on the highest peak in Rajasthan, a temple sat.
It is at the base of this peak that Mr. Arnett lost his wallet. A young boy quickly sees it and immediately returns it. Mr. Arnett tries several times to give the boy a reward. Thinking that maybe a language barrier was blocking communication, he asks an English speaking Indian to intervene. Mr. Arnett learns the young boy does not understand why he should get a reward for returning something that belonged to someone else, saying returning the wallet was the right thing to do.
“The right thing to do.” There were no heroics, no possibility of harm to the boy, and his actions cost him nothing. He returned the wallet because it was the right thing to do, the moral thing to do, and simply put, the wallet belonged to Mr. Arnett. That is powerful and a message that many of us need to understand, especially since we really do live in a small world.
The author does not say all Indians behave like this young man. He says this is an important value Indian people try to live by. It is understandable why he wanted to write his first children’s book about this experience. Previously, Mr. Arnett wrote India Unveiled, a compendium of everything India, including cultural, social, and religious, and including a multitude of pictures. Finders Keepers is from India Unveiled, re-written for children. My understanding is this is the first in a series about India for children. ¿Es mio? is the Spanish language version of Finders Keepers.
The illustrations are bright, lively, and beautifully detailed Indian motifs. The center spread is a gorgeous illustration of the world with several cultures represented. I would love to have this in a frame. It speaks volumes about tolerance and the new global interactions that are becoming everyday personal experiences in the workplace and in our personal lives.
At the back of the book parents and children—and teachers—will find definitions and pronunciations of select words, questions children can ask of themselves or be used in the classroom, interesting facts about India, and directions for making your own toran.
Cover to cover Finders Keepers richly depicts India artistically and in prose. Between author Arnett and illustrator Smita Turakhia, Finders Keepers teaches multicultural understanding, tolerance, and respect, while highlighting the Indian way of life. One Indian principle that of great important states we should do what is right, regardless of the situation. That term is dharma (DHUR-muh), “Do what you ought to do, not what you want to do.”
Winner of Mom’s Choice Award – Best Educational Picture Book
Winner of IPPY Ten Outstanding Books of the Year
Winner of IPPY Most Inspirational to Youth Book
Winner of Benjamin Franklin Silver Award Â— Multicultural
Winner of The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval
by Robert Arnett website FB illustrated by Smita Turakhia info page Atman Press website Released on January 20, 2013 ISBN: 978-096529-008-1 32 Pages Ages: 8 to12
Copyright © 2013 by Atman Press, used with permission. Revised Text: copyright © 2013 by Robert Arnett Illustrations: copyright © by Smita Turakhia
*Namaste (NUM-ah-stay), the greeting used by many Indians to say both “hello and “goodbye.”