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Jasbinder Bilan lives near Bath, in England, with her husband, two sons and a naughty little dog named Enzo. She works as a teacher and in her free time enjoys writing stories for children.
Following her Costa winning debut Asha and the Spirit Bird, this is another beautifully written story seamlessly blending authentic realism with other-worldly and supernatural elements which link to traditional mythology and give a real insight into different cultures. Narrated by the occasionally spiky and totally convincing Tamarind who was brought to England as a baby after her mother died and still knows nothing of her heritage. She has also just started secondary school and takes her father’s remarriage badly, especially when they leave her with her unknown relatives in India while they go off on a delayed honeymoon. The emotional upheaval of the following week in which she discovers her mother’s story and meets her ghost is a real crash course in growing up and reconciliation. The rural setting and the descriptions of family traditions and customs, which are are as new to Tamarind as they will be to many readers, are a real highlight of this engrossing and highly satisfying story.
Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2019 | Debut of the Month January 2020 | Winner of the 2017 Time/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition | Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2020 | Rich in drama, and suffused in the spirituality and atmosphere of the author’s native Northern Punjab, Jasbinder Bilan’s debut is a delightful, hope-bathed treat for 9+ year-olds. With money tight, Asha’s father has gone to the big city to work in a factory, having promised to send money home, and to return to their village in the Himalayan foothills for Diwali. But when the money stops arriving and her mum runs into trouble with a lender, Asha makes a big, brave decision: she will cross the world’s highest mountains to find her father. Accompanied by best friend Jeevan, and with the magical, protective presence of her nanijee – her grandmother’s spirit bird – Asha sets out on a truly transformative journey of a lifetime. Along the way, the friends encounter dangerous beasts of the animal and human kind, but they never give up hope, with Asha’s infectious sense of justice, self-belief and spirituality keeping them firmly fixed on their goal. This is perfect for fans of the Himalayas-set Running on the Roof of the World and the adventure stories of Eva Ibbotson and Katherine Rundell.