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Reviewed by:
  • Vanished
  • Claire Gross
Chari, Sheela. Vanished; illus. by Jon Klassen. Disney Hyperion, 2011. [240p]. ISBN 978-1-4231-3163-2 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–6.

Despite her ongoing issues with stage fright, eleven-year-old Neela is thrilled when her grandmother gifts her with a veena, the Indian instrument Neela plays, from her own collection at her home in India. When the veena mysteriously disappears, Neela discovers that her beloved new instrument is actually a priceless original from a famous craftsman, and that it is cursed: after bringing its owner bad luck, it disappears and eventually shows up back in the music store in India from which [End Page 73] it originated. As Neela tries to find her missing instrument, she stumbles onto a mysterious web of connections involving friends, family, and even celebrities. Chari smoothly integrates Neela’s experiences as an Indian-American into her adventures without giving them undue weight within the lightly earnest mystery, allowing the story to be culturally specific without being didactic or tokenistic. The nuances of peer relationships are explored with gentle thoroughness, and readers will find much that is familiar and thought-provoking as Neela’s investigation tugs at ties to her best friend, her school nemesis, and the class weird girl. Though the pacing is a little slow at times, the scope and details of the mystery are laser-targeted at the appropriate age level. Neela is an endearingly awkward, heart-on-her-sleeve heroine who will readily elicit reader investment, and the supernatural mystery elegantly intertwines clues with cultural, musical, and historical details. Musically inclined readers may also be fascinated to learn the history and qualities of an instrument new to them, and an author’s note offers resources for further investigation.



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pp. 73-74
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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