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Tamarind & the Star of Ishta

Tamarind & the Star of Ishta

Jasbinder Bilan
Chicken House Ltd
ISBN: 9781913322175

Tamarind is going to spend time in India with her mother's family at their huge mansion in the Himalayas. She never knew her mother who died when Tamarind was a baby and although she has many questions, she is nervous about meeting her extended family. But no one seems keen to give her answers and as Tamarind explores, she uncovers yet more mysteries- a sing-song voice, soft as a whisper; an overgrown summer house which is forbidden; a beautiful ring hidden in a small blue box and a strange girl with a golden monkey.

Rich language evokes the sights and sounds of the Himalayas in this wonderful story about family and belonging. Tamarind, a football fanatic from Bristol, finds everything strange and is puzzled by the palpable tension between her father and her mother's family. Her sense of confusion and loss are sensitively portrayed as she tries to make sense of relationships and differences in culture whilst piecing together the past.

There is a magical element running through the story, blending reality and fantasy, as Tamarind discovers more about her mother. The story comes to a satisfying conclusion which I have no wish to spoil for anyone else and a note from Jasbinder Bilan at the end of the book offers a personal insight into the inspiration behind the story. The whole thing is a delight from start to finish and would make an excellent text for using with a class.

As delightful as Asha and the Spirit Bird, Tamarind and the Star of Ishta is another wonderful story from the talented Jasbinder Bilan.

224 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher


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