Costa Children’s Book Award
Judges: “Imaginative, magical, heartrending and hopeful.”
the strength of this magical realist story is its original sense of place: India in the Himalayan foothills. Eleven-year-old Asha’s mother is threatened by debt collectors after her father goes away to work. Asha faces perils in search of him, helped by her best friend Jeevan and her late grandmother’s spirit, reborn as a giant bird, a lamagaia.
There is fire and fury, and then a happy ending — a little too neat, perhaps, with new tractors and a mango-chutney export business for Mum. Yet this is a fantastic debut and Bilan creates a vivid world in which Asha and Javeen are our firm friends.
the debut from Jasbinder Bilan, winner of her publisher’s children’s fiction competition in 2017 – hits you with lush tropical artwork: namaste, illustrator Aitch and designer Helen Crawford-White.
The words do justice to the pictures. If one of the gifts of fiction is to proffer unfamiliar footwear in which to walk a while, Bilan’s story is an eye-opening adventure, with one sandalled foot in atmospheric realism and a toe-hold in the mythical.