Mitali Perkins is the author of Tiger Boy, which releases in September 2015.
We had travelled by car, boat and rickshaw to reach the village school where my father had studied seventy years ago.
The headmaster greeted us, asking about our visit. “What was your Baba’s name?” he asked.
To my amazement, he pulled down an old ledger and opened to a particular page. There was my father’s name and his class six scores in maths, Bangla and English! Good news—the scores were as high as my grandmother had reported!
“What is he doing now?” the headmaster asked.
I described my father’s travels as a civil engineer, designing ports and harbours all over the world. While he had studied in this small school, however, he had been one of many village boys struggling to attain higher education. If it hadn’t been for a local leader who recognised Baba’s potential and paid for a ticket to take an exam in Kolkata, Baba might have remained overlooked, unable to contribute his talents. (I wonder, of course, what might have happened to my sisters and me, and to our children in turn, without that train ticket.)
In my new novel Tiger Boy, Neel is a talented student, much like the younger version of my father. Neel lives in a remote village in the Sunderbans, one of the most beautiful and unique ecosystems in the world. When a tiger cub gets lost and is hunted by poachers, Neel must make tough choices that involve his whole family. The future of their island may depend on how well he can steward and invest his talents. Like my father, Neel also finds an unlikely champion or two along the way.
I wrote the book as a tribute to children everywhere who are in danger of being overlooked. Their talents are needed to build a future of peace and prosperity, and we are called to be their champions. I hope you and the children you love enjoy reading Tiger Boy.