You are about to embark on a remarkable journey. It begins on the teeming streets of Kolkata, India, and will transport you across arid plains and turbulent rivers to a secret valley high in the Himalayas. Along the way you will encounter powerful spirits, both good and unspeakably evil; fantastical creatures; and a trio of intrepid travelers who will linger in your memory long after the last page of this book is turned.
In a dingy shack in the less than desirable neighborhood that he calls home 12-year-old Anand is entrusted with a conch shell that possesses mystical powers. His task is to return the shell to its rightful home many hundreds of miles away. Accompanying him are Nisha, a headstrong but resourceful child of the streets, and a mysterious man of indeterminate age and surprising resources named Abadhyatta . . .
This is fantasy of the first order; an exotic and compelling adventure story that is almost impossible to put down. It is also a significant literary achievement by a distinguished author, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
Praise for The Conch Bearer:
Booklist - Ilene Cooper
Starred Review. ... the pure beauty of Anand's destination is a shimmering Shangri-La come to life. This speaks directly to children, in a very enticing voice.
... fresh and riveting with details of India's smells, sights and tastes, with characters that possess both good and evil, and with her exploration of the fine line between faith and magic. Young readers can only hope for more from this master storyteller.
The Houston Chronicle
Motivated by the tensions and hate crimes that flared after Sept. 11, specifically those aimed at her ethnic community, Divakaruni strives to stress the similarities, not differences, among people through the tale of a 12-year-old Indian boy...The rich details in the story, cultivated from imagination, folklore and memories of the author's own upbringing in India, offer readers colorful snapshots of the land and its culture.
Dallas Morning News
With adventures, magic, spirituality, fantasy and a fast trek from Kolkata, India, to a hidden paradise high in the Himalayas (while dodging evil at every turn), The Conch Bearer is everything the perfect tale should be.
From the Booksellers
Peter Glassman, owner of Books of Wonder in NYC
... brilliantly original fantasy that captures the magic of India's rich culture and traditions. A story that will be embraced by readers of all ages ...
Nina Barrett, book buyer and children's event coordinator for Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago, IL
... this is just a great story. You're hooked by the characters from the moment you meet them and the action is pretty much non-stop.
Kendal Rautzhan, children's book expert and syndicated columnist
... everything the perfect tale should be.
Jill Brooks, book buyer and children's event coordinator Anderson's Books in Naperville, IL (store featured on Oprah)
... fresh, original fantasy that is delightfully steeped in the scents and colors of India. What a welcome addition to our Mock Newbery list!