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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

An uplifting story, told through the alternating voices of two middle-schoolers, in which a community rallies to reject racism. Karina Chopra would have never imagined becoming friends with the boy next door--after all, they've avoided each other for years and she assumes Chris is just like the boys he hangs out with, who she labels a pack of hyenas. Then Karina's grandfather starts tutoring Chris, and she discovers he's actually a nice, funny kid. But one afternoon something unimaginable happens--the three of them are assaulted by a stranger who targets Indian-American Karina and her grandfather because of how they look. Her grandfather is gravely injured and Karina and Chris vow not to let hate win. When Karina posts a few photos related to the attack on social media, they quickly attract attention, and before long her #CountMeIn post--"What does an American look like? #immigrants #WeBelong #IamAmerican #HateHasNoHomeHere"--goes viral and a diverse population begin to add their ow…

Count Me In

by Varsha Bajaj

Overall Book Review:

Author Varsha Bajaj created an amazing story in Count me In. The theme of racism is a heavy subject to address for the intended younger audience but the approach she took was perfect. It could have easily turned into something hateful against those who are racist but she kept it kind and unbiased. This is a story that will be engaging for children (and adults) but also teach them the importance of being inclusive and standing up for those who are being excluded or oppressed. The main characters are wonderful, and the relationships that develop throughout the story are beautiful. This could easily be a biography and felt very authentic from beginning to end. I highly recommend this book to anyone ages nine and up–including parents, as it will provide a great opportunity to teach and start discussions about racism in a natural way. My children will definitely be reading this. #Countmein

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Nancy Paulsen Books


Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 scatological word.

Note: 1 religious exclamation abbreviation (OMG); 2 incidents of characters saying swear words but words not specified.

Violence/Gore:  Several (16) brief incidents including smashed berries look like blood; characters threatened with a knife; verbal fighting; references to murders; reference to hyenas eating each other; reference to firing squad; second-hand report of character falling and splitting lip; reference to fighting in a video game; second-hand report of man dying in car accident; reference to battles; adult character pushes a young character down; young character elbows another; character dreams of fighting a dragon; adult character pushed down and receives life-threatening injuries; character cut open for surgery.

Sex/Nudity:  One incident of a character seeing another in a hospital gown and sees his naked behind.

Mature Subject Matter:

Racism; death.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Reference to wine.

Overall Book Rating
Profanity/Language
Rating:
3
10
Violence/Gore
Rating:
2
10
Sex/Nudity
Rating:
1
10

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About the Reviewer

I love being able to help busy parents who just don’t have the time to pre-screen all their children’s books and know how much I appreciate it as my sons have gotten older. I feel very blessed that my amazing husband makes it possible for me to be a stay-at-home mother to four amazing boys. When not reading or enjoying time with my family, I like baking, especially trying new recipes, and the occasional sewing project.