Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: Vanished by Sheela Chari


Author: Sheela Chari

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3163-2

August 2011

Disney-Hyperion Books

Eleven year old Neela has dreams of becoming a musician. She is given a beautiful heirloom instrument with a deep family history and cultural influence but it disappears. It vanishes from a church of all places, and she is devastated.

Neela begins her journey trying to find her beloved veena which was a present from her grandmother. The missing instrument is intricately carved with a mysterious dragon and her investigation leads to omnious letters, a tea pot, and more. It is good vs. evil at it's best.  

The author weaves a wonderful tale of mystery, intrigue, and culture as Neela searches for her instrument. Her friends at school may know something but will Neela learn the truth? Her instrument has a long history, going back to India where her grandmother lives and where the instrument was carved.  It turns out that the instrument has disappeared before. How does this mysterious instrument vanish and reappear over the course of years? Will Neela be able to find it and perform and will she be able to keep it with her always protecting the fine instrument from vanishing again?

This story is filled with questions  that will keep readers interested from the beginning until a satisfying end as it spans generations and two countries throughout the story line. Not only does the author tell a great tale, but she does it as she injects bits of the culture of India and the history of a little known instrument called the veena. She exposes the reader to very interesting information while she entertains and demonstrates the importance of family and the concept of good and evil.

I would recommend this for middle school readers who are in search of a great mystery. They will not only get a good mystery, they will relate to a likeable character and feel her passion for her beloved veena.

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