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Kali and the Rat Snake
by Zai Whitaker , Srividya Natarajan
Search Amazon for other books by or about Zai Whitaker.

Reviewed by: Diana Rohini La Vigne

Teaching kids how to deal with peer pressure is only one of the important messages that Kali and the Rat Snake by Zai Whitaker presents. The bold illustrations and expressive text starts with the tale of a boy who is struggling from the lack of acceptance of his classmates in regards to his unusual background. Children taunt the young Kali and although some children might have bad intentions, Kali only dreams of being accepted by his peers.

He is loved by his teacher and otherwise living a happy life, but being new to school and having trouble making friends is forming a very unhappy side to Kali's life. A moment of crisis changes the course of his future when a snake appears in the school room threatening Kali, his teacher and his classmates. Being the son of a snake catcher, Kali takes immediate action by securing the snake without much effort. Classmates are instantly thankful to Kali for knowing how to capture the potentially dangerous wild snake. Classmate's respect opens the door for Kali to make new friendships and almost insures his acceptance with other students.

The illustrations by Srividya Nataranjan bring the story alive and help demonstrate how Kali is able to overcome his challenges and gain the respect of his fellow schoolmates. Images are truly unique and bring a level of cultural awareness to youthful readers. Kali and the Rat Snake captured my heart and will surely capture the hearts and minds of today's youth. It a beautiful and well-written book which is a solid contribution to children's cultural literature.

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