THE CLOSET GHOSTS by Uma Krishnaswami. Illustrated by Shiraaz Bhabha. Children’s Book Press, March 2006. $16.95. www.childrensbookpress.org
If Chachaji’s Cup was about poignant relationships and memories, Uma Krishnaswami’s newest book for children, The Closet Ghosts, stars Hindi-speaking ghosts and Hanumanji to the rescue.
Anu is a little girl who is bewildered when she and her parents move to a new home and neighborhood. To make things worse, there is a new school to attend and unknown classmates to meet. Anu’s anxiety conjures up imaginary ghosts tucked away in the closets of her new home, waiting to scare her. The story takes a magical turn when Anu calls upon the Hindu monkey god Hanuman to tackle the ghosts.
Krishnaswami depicts Anu’s Hanuman as a savior strong enough to scare away ghosts, yet friendly enough to lie down on the carpet and hear Anu talk about the old home, school, and friends that she misses so much. Do Anu and Hanuman finally succeed in sending away the ghosts?
Krishnaswami’s The Closet Ghosts tells a sunny story that beautifully deals with Anu’s fear and sadness, and how she overcomes these feelings. Illustrations by Shiraaz Bhabha are bright and pleasing. My preschooler started reading this book with bated breath and wide-eyed interest; she finished on a giggly note. It now makes a wonderful addition to her library.