Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Secret Kingdom Nek Chand, A Changing India and a Hidden World of Art

The Secret Kingdom
Author Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator Claire A Nivola
Candlewick Press, 2018
review copy from publisher

The Secret Kingdom is a beautiful story about Nek Chand a boy growing up in the village Berian Kalan near the Himalayas.  His family life is filled with family, stories, and love.  He was a creator and loved to play on the stream bank.  He went to school.  He became a farmer and continued to tell his stories.  Until his country Punjab was split into two countries; Pakistan and India after the men with guns came.  He was able to walk with his family to India for twenty-four days.  They settled in a new city Chandigarh where Nek didn't feel like he belonged.  The story continues to tell you the journey Nek took trying to belong again.  He found that belonging feeling again by creating a space in the wilderness to live.  His work was a secret.  Once it was discovered and people visited they were able to help him from having it destroyed and identified as a piece of art.  The four page spread of photographs is breath taking of this space.  Nek's secret work tells stories of coming home and this work is still carried on today in the Rock Garden.  I wish I had this book last year when I had a few families from India.  I think I might drop this book off to one my old students from India tomorrow morning.

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