In Andal’s House Reviews

“In Andal’s House is written by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Amanda Hall. It is a realistic story about a boy named Kumar and his experience with the remnants of discrimination inherent in India’s caste system. Kumar is invited to his classmate’s house, Andal’s house, for an evening of fireworks during Diwali celebrations.  However, Andal’s family is high-caste Brahmin and very wealthy whereas Kumar’s family had been in the past without a caste in the grouping of “untouchables” and is very poor.

Kumar looks forward to spending the evening with some of the boys from his class as he walks through the city to Andal’s large and opulent house. He is greeted by a servant and let in only to be abruptly turned out by Andal’s grandmother.” I am very sorry but you cannot stay. Andal was wrong to invite you. I do not mean to be unkind, but we cannot have a boy of no caste in our home. ”

Kumar returns home discouraged. He tells his grandfather that the future is hopeless.  Nothing has changed. His grandfather responds that the laws have changed and the new generation does not think like the old generation and he and Andal are part of that new generation. He reminds Kumar that the lamps of Dawali are lit “ to drive away the darkness of ignorance.”

Amanda Hall’s illustrations are exquisite. The double page picture of Kumar walking through a festive city all covered with lights, bedecked in ribbons and crowned with sparkling fireworks is a celebration in pink and green. Andal’s grandmother is shown wearing a white sari. As she floats down the staircase to shush Kumar out the front door she looks very much like a ghost from the past—which she is.

Whelan’s sensitive description of how Kumar’s grandfather was treated as an untouchable before the reforms is powerful. She also includes a helpful list of Indian words used in the story that expands the reader’s cultural awareness. This signature characteristic is found in all of the wonderful picture books written by this fine author for the Tales of the World Series.

In Andal’s House written by National Book Award winner Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Amanda Hall will bring new insights to readers age 6-10. (Sleeping Bear Press, 2013).” 

—The Children’s Bookshelf/ Sue Ann Martin 



“Hall’s illustrations echo traditional Indian folk art, while Whelan deftly explains that the persistence of the caste system is mostly because of older individuals who won’t change. This book raises big questions about society and its norms that will challenge readers’ intellectual curiosity.”

—Booklist Online/ Amina Chaudhri Link



“In Andal’s House” by Gloria Whelan is a book that can be read with two different outcomes. It’s a story about class, or caste, as it’s called in India…

The bright colorful illustrations by Amanda Hall show a town illuminated by fireworks and lamps with people out and about in bright clothing.” Pam Kramer



“In this introduction to the Hindu caste system, Kumar is invited to his friend Andal’s house to watch the fireworks for the celebration of Diwali. Andal is high-caste Brahmin, and his family is very wealthy. Kumar’s family had been outcasts and are concerned about the visit. Kumar is the best student in his class and believes that is why Andal invited him. When he arrives at his friend’s large home, he is met by Andal’s grandmother, who tells him, “we cannot have a boy of no caste in our home. It would never do.” Kumar returns home to his grandfather, who explains how things used to be and that at least now there are laws against discrimination that make everyone equal. He reminds his grandson that it wasn’t Andal who turned him away. The story ends with Kumar feeling hopeful about his future as he dreams of the Diwali lamps lighting up the darkness. This picture book has vibrant and colorful artwork. It will have a place in collections that want to show how discrimination of any kind adversely affects young people. Readers will also see in Kumar the power of perseverance.”

School Library Journal/ Nancy Jo Lambert 



“The book goes far in illuminating for children what being an Untouchable meant in India’s past, and it emphasizes how “the foolish and unkind people” who still believe that way today are essentially ignorant.”

Kirkus Reviews/ Julie Danielson Link



“One of several titles in the Sleeping Bear Press series, Tales of the World, this thoughtful selection introduces children to current-day culture in India.

Young Kumar feels as though he lives in two worlds: the old India where people lived according to their caste, and the new world where laws have abolished that caste discrimination and bigotry. Upon being invited to his friend’s house to watch fireworks, Kumar is especially pleased to be included since his friend is from a high-caste Brahmin family. But when Kumar arrives, his friend’s grandmother abruptly sends him away. Insulted and angry, Kumar returns home to the fortunate and wise words of his grandfather.

A sensitive and accurate portrayal of some of the social struggles that take place in India today, this choice is ultimately one of hope.”

Greatest Books for Kids: Books to Borrow…Books to Buy/ Kendal A. Rautzhan



“Amanda Hall, the award-winning illustrator, conspires to present Kumar’s viewpoint.  The white home looks overwhelmingly grand and forbidden to the Dalit boy as he views it behind the fancy pillared gate.  In fact, the residence has an almost fairy tale quality to its appearance.” 

Lokvani/ Tara Meno Link