Great Illustrated Books

The Conch Bearer

By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Roaring Brook Press, 2003
Pages : 265
Suggested Ages: 10 and Up
ISBN: 9780761319351

Since Anand's father left his family in India to go work in Dubai, he's stopped sending home checks, leaving 12-year- old Anand, his ill younger sister, Meera, and their mother destitute. Anand now works in the Bowbajar Market as a dishwasher at a tea stall, scrubbing the pots and glasses till his fingers are red and raw. He's tired, hungry, and worst yet, can no longer afford the fees to attend school. Anand owns a book of Persian fairy tales and wishes someone would give him a magic apple that could cure you of any disease if you just smelled it once or a telescope that could show you anything in the world you wanted to see. Then he could make his sister well and find his father. His mother reprimands him," Those things happen only in storybooks, son. Don't you know that by now?” When Anand first notices the barefoot old man, wrapped in a dirty white cotton shawl, he figures him for a beggar. He is not. He’s come from a secret group, the Brotherhood of Healers, and he needs Anand to join him on a dangerous mission to return their sacred conch to its hiding place, deep in the Himalayan mountains. This electrifying and satisfying quest fantasy by an award-winning poet and adult fiction writer evokes the sights and sounds and mystery of India. Anand’s journey continues with The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Alexander, Lloyd. The Book of Three. Henry Holt, 1964. ISBN-13: 978-0805080483

Billingsley, Franny. The Folk Keeper. Simon & Schuster, 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0747560548

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander. Scholastic, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0439435369

Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee. The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming. Roaring Brook, 2005. ISBN-13: 978-1416917687

Garcia, Laura Gallego. The Legend of the Wandering King. Scholastic, 2005. ISBN-13: 978-0439585569

Hirsch, Odo. Bartlett and the City of Flames. Bloomsbury, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-1582348315

Ibbotson, Eva. The Secret of Platform 13. Dutton, 1998. ISBN-13: 978-0141302867

LaFevers, R. L. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. Houghton Mifflin, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0618999767

L'Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. Farrar, 1962. ISBN-13: 978-0312367541

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Houghton Mifflin, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0440237686

Pratchett, Terry. The Wee Free Men. HarperCollins, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0060012380

Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. Knopf, 1996. . (And others in the His Dark Materials series.) ISBN-13: 978-0375838309

Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. Miramax/Hyperion, 2005. (And others in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.) ISBN-13: 978-0786838653

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer��s Stone. Scholastic. (And others in the Harry Potter series.) ISBN-13: 978-0439362139

Stroud, Jonathan. The Amulet of Samarkand. Hyperion, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0786852550

Critics have said

Honesty, loyalty, and compassion are the virtues demanded by the Healers; Anand's actions show that he has all three. Readers can sympathize with his struggles and long for his success. This traditional story in fresh new clothing should appeal to middle graders.
Kathleen Isaacs, School Library Journal

On the whole, it is refreshing to see this particular mingling of old and new, real and magical, in the story container of a children's book. There are places in which the prose just sings, and in all, The Conch Bearer is worth revisiting.
Uma Krishnaswami,


The unique setting is what sets this novel apart from other fantasy stories, and the quality of the writing is above average.
Alice Stern, VOYA