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Caribbean L 52 ife, Aug. 30, 2019
Book cover of “Count Me In.”
Timely tale about
“Count Me In” by Varsha Bajaj
c.2019, Nancy Paulsen Books
$16.99 / $22.99 Canada
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
There are a few kids in your class that
you usually try to ignore.
That’s because they’re kinda mean.
They call others names, knock books
out of their hands, and say racist or
hurtful things. They’re bullies, and you
avoid them as much as possible, but as
in the new book “Count Me In” by Varsha
Bajaj, could there be something you
It was early in sixth grade, and Karina
Chopra kept her head down. The
popular boys, basketball players, had
tried hard to humiliate her on the
school bus and she wasn’t having any
of that. She was nerdy, she’d admit it.
She was a good student and the teachers
liked her. And her skin was brown,
but was that any reason to harass and
No, it wasn’t, and though it was now
early in the school year, seventh grade,
Karina never forgot that hurtful incident.
She still tried to avoid those boys,
even though one of them, Chris Daniels,
lived right next door. Avoiding him was
a challenge: she and Chris were in five
of their seven classes together. Ugh!
Chris Daniels was almost positive
that Karina Chopra thought he was
one of the mean dudes. He didn’t blame
her for it; he never stood up to any of
the other boys on the team when they
teased her, even though he knew he
should. He actually thought Karina was
one of the prettiest girls in Houston,
but he couldn’t tell her that because
he barely knew her, even though she’d
lived next door for years.
And then – oh, man! – Chris’s dad
decided that Chris needed a math tutor
and the school assigned Karina’s grandfather
as his teacher! He had to spend
practically every after-school with
them. For sure, he’d make a total fool
But he didn’t. Instead, Chris learned
math, and a lot more. He found out that
Karina was pretty cool, and that Indian
culture included awesome food. He
learned to stand up for himself, and for
Karina and her family. And he learned
that there were haters in the world, and
that they could change everything...
With its themes of bullying, violence
toward immigrants, and diversity, if
there ever was a timely tale, “Count
Me In” is it. And this is a nice book, to
It’s not filled with needless drama
or pre-teen angst or drugs. There are
no adult-only themes here, and nothing
from the realm of the unexplained.
Instead, author Varsha Bajaj’s plot is
one that teens and almost-teens may
be grappling with now, and her characters
are well-rounded, basically good
kids caught in a modern problem with
a modern solution. That leads to a message
inside this tale that is underscored
through repetition, and which could
Readers ages 10 and up will surely
see themselves or someone they know
inside this book and that might help
the kid who needs it. Even if there’s no
pressing concern for your child, “Count
Me In” is a book she can’t ignore.
Dr. Todd Soifer - Specializing in Shoulder, Knee and Back Issues.
Dr. Daniel Morgan - Specializing in Hip and Knee Replacement Surgery.
Dr. Jaspreet Sekhon - Advanced Shoulder and Knee Arthroscopy,
Rotator Cuff, Labral, ACL and Meniscal Repairs.
Dr. Joshua Reimer - Advanced Pain Management Treatments
Under Ultrasound Guidance.
Dr. David Simon - Foot & Ankle Injuries, Wound Care,
Diabetic Foot Issues, Arch Problems & Orthotics.
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