Jamie Greenwood


Outstanding, Barb Rosenstock, Claire A. Nivola, Primary, Biography, India, Refugee

Document Type

Book Review


Nek Chand Saini was born and raised in a Punjabi village near the Himalayas. When the Punjab region splits into Pakistan and India, Nek has to leave his home, now in Pakistan, and flee to the new country of India. Once there, Nek finds work building the roads of Chandigarh, India’s first modern city, but he longs for the culture and traditions of home. He finds bits of pottery, broken glass, bangles, bicycle tires and more remnants of his old world and fashions his very own “secret kingdom” over the course of seven years. When government officials discover his work, they threaten to destroy the beautiful creation, but the people of Chandigarh come to see Nek’s world and beg the officials to recognize the secret kingdom as a work of art. Nek continues to expand and create his no-longer-secret kingdom, which still stands today as a beautiful representation of a world that no longer exists in the ways Nek remembers it.