I am delighted that Austin Macauley in London have just published the first of my Lalli series: “Lalli’s Window”! As a life-long story-teller, I have searched long and hard for the face of an Indo-American child in children’s books here in the US. Sheer frustration at this absence led me to write my own book with eleven-year-old Lalli as my protagonist. Lalli’s parents migrated from India to Tucson, AZ. Lalli and her younger brother were born in the US.
My goal in writing this book as the first of a series is to increase diversity in children’s literature, not only in ethnic and racial terms, but also physically and mentally. You will see Lalli at her window gazing at the old Mennonite couple across the street, neighbors she had never ‘seen’ properly. Imprisoned in her bedroom and trying not to cry over the leg she just lost in an accident, she sits in her wheelchair in front of her window, discovering a new world filled with love, friendship, and compassion. The trauma of losing a leg pushes Lalli outside the safe bubble that is her school and her home. The old Mennonite man across the street teaches her through the medium of music how he found inner peace after the loss of a loved one. The gay couple next to Lalli’s home – an Indo-American and a Caucasian American – adopt two girls, one from South Korea, the other from India. These various expressions of strength and love allow Lalli to view her own lost limb with new self-awareness.
“Lalli’s Window” is the first of the series. Hopefully, if it resonates with readers, my publisher will print the next seven that are presently languishing in my laptop! With each one, Lalli is a year older and faces new challenges, new experiences that broaden her horizon in unusual ways. My volunteer work at centers for adults with disabilities in Chantilly and Springfield, Virginia, has raised my own consciousness about other modes of communication, and about other definitions of childhood: lost, horribly painful, voiceless, restricted, medicated, violent, immensely stressful – and unbelievably courageous.
Here’s the first limerick heralding my book (each chapter has one, in case you are a follower of Edward Lear:
A wheelchair is as cool as can be!
It shows you a world fancy-free.
Down a slope, up a hill,
Go around just for a thrill,
Till you cry out: “OH GOLLY! OH GOSH! OH GEE!”