Boys Without Names

by Kashmira Sheth

Eleven-year-old Gopal lives with his family in rural India. After a bumper onion... read more

Eleven-year-old Gopal lives with his family in rural India. After a bumper onion crop drives down the prices and leaves the family with little money and mounting debts, they flee to Mumbai in search of a better life. Instead, Gopal is kidnapped and sold into child slavery. He’s locked in a stifling attic room with several other boys where they are forced to glue tiny beads into intricate patterns on wooden picture frames that will ultimately be exported and sold abroad. A cruel master nicknamed Scar keeps the boys overworked and underfed, and discourages them from forming any bonds or even telling one another their names. Even so, Gopal slowly manages to gain the boys’ confidence by telling them tales at night before they fall asleep, and gradually each boy begins to reveal his own story. Throughout the ordeal, Gopal looks for an opportunity to escape, but as his bond to the other boys become stronger, the idea of leaving them behind becomes impossible. With perfectly paced, distinctive writing, Kashmira Sheth provides a fascinating look into contemporary child slavery, endemic throughout the world. By setting the story in a specific place, she succeeds in personalizing it and enriching it with cultural detail. (Ages 9–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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