The School Library Journal review of Karthik Delivers shares that “Chari’s prose has a very conversational tone, which adds to the book’s authenticity and ease of reading . . . A wonderful realistic fiction title about a young Indian boy following his heart.” I agree whole-heartedly. Karthik is a character that many can connect with on a variety of levels and is so very endearing. I found myself rooting for him the entire time I listened to the audio book. Simply trying to navigate one’s teenage years along with an annoying older sibling and nerdy parents is difficult enough, without taking a chance and doing the unexpected (like acting in a play.) But those who have been part of a theatrical performance know that it is a great place to be to find – or reinvent – yourself!
Author Sheela Chari will be presenting her newest middle grade novel, Karthik Delivers, on May 21st at the 13th Gaithersburg Book Festival at its new location, Gaithersburg’s Bohrer Park.
Sheela will be presenting Karthik Delivers along with Mariama J. Lockington (In the Key of Us) in the Willa Cather Pavilion 4:15-5:05, immediately followed by a book signing. The discussion will be moderated by MCPS School Librarian,Terri Perper.
I hope you enjoy my interview with author Sheela Chari.
What is your writing space like?
My writing space is my attic office. It’s beautiful and quiet, and from up here, I can watch birds in the tree next to my window,
and the gorgeous, evening sunsets. I also have a bulletin board hanging over my desk, with pictures, postcards, and mementos that inspire me.
How (or in what ways) do you hope librarians will promote your book?
I think Karthik Delivers is a funny book and a quick read, but it also gets to the heart of some important questions facing middle schoolers:
What am I passionate about? How do I fit in while still being myself? How am I going to be different from my family and their expectations of me? These are questions especially important in immigrant households like the one I grew up in, when our cultural backgrounds shape those expectations our parents have for us.
What do you hope your readers will learn from reading your book?
In this story, 14 year-old Karthik is working in his dad’s Indian grocery store when he gets unexpectedly cast as the lead in a play. This might sound like a miracle, but such miracles happen in life all the time. When an opportunity falls in your lap, grab it! You never know what will happen next.
Melissa – I loved the audio book narration by Varun Sathi, a Boston-based voice actor.
Who is the reader you are writing for? Please describe them.
I’m writing for middle schoolers, parents, librarians, and anyone who is interested in the creative arts (drama, art, music), growing up in an immigrant household, or finding their passions!
Melissa – I continually encourage my students to get involved in the creative arts – especially theatre, as there is something for everyone, and it is so empowering.
What is one (or more) thing(s) that you really want your readers to know about you?
I grew up playing the violin, and so music is a very important part of my life. I’m always interested in finding ways to include art and music into my life.
What do you love most about the cover art and illustrations in your book? Who is your illustrator?
I love my cover! The illustrator is Kitt Thomas, and they did a fantastic job rendering Karthik riding his delivery bike in Boston, while looking upwards and dreaming!
If you look carefully at the cover, you will notice that Kitt incorporated orange, green, white, and blue — the colors of the Indian flag!
What has surprised you most about the characters in your book?
One of my hopes was to show that kindness prevails nearly in every situation. All of my characters grow, either by learning to adopt more kindness towards others, or to accept it when shown to them. Karthik delivers groceries, the lines from his play, but most importantly, on kindness to his friends, family, and the customers at the store. But I’m most surprised to see how this kindness turns out to be the very basis of how all the characters relate to each other by the end of the story.
Which book review or award has been most meaningful to you?
I was thrilled to receive the APALA Children’s Literature Honor Book award for my first novel, Vanished!
I was also so excited to receive a starred review from Publishers Weekly for Karthik Delivers, who describes the book as “overflowing with love.” Wow! For me, writing the book was definitely an act of love.
What are you most looking forward to at our book festival?
Books are about readers and writers intersecting with each on the page. But book festivals are about people being together. I can’t wait to see readers of all ages and passions together in-person!
I hope you will join Sheela and me at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21st!
Sheela Chari is the author of the Edgar Award finalist “Vanished” and “Finding Mighty,” a Children’s Choice Award finalist and Junior Library Guild selection. Sheela has an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, and is a faculty member of Vermont College of Arts’s MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives with her family in New York. She will be presenting “Karthik Delivers” at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.