We see the longings of a child in Velu. We also see him blundering into cheats and money-lenders, where the authors portray Velu's fear and helplessness, at being powerless against a corrupt adult, and his understanding of the fact that street children (such as he) do not have adults to protect them. Yes, Velu meets good people too, like the priest who teaches them, and the social workers who conduct workshops with them. But Velu cannot go to these "good" adults for help against the corrupt money-lender. I read that as a message saying that ultimately, street children have to fend for themselves, protect themselves, physically and mentally, although I'm not sure a child reading the book would see it as glaringly.
The book does not have a "plot" so to speak, but rather tells a story which educates you about the plight of street-children, particularly rag-pickers, the role they play in environmental cleaning, and a general awareness of trash, and trash reuse. This book is an educative, get-involved, learn and apply (i.e.; why get paper bags at the grocer instead of plastic ones), kind of a book. A good book also, for starting clean-up projects and getting kids to be thankful for what they have.
The book is well styled, (could have been more colorful), the illustrations are interesting featuring a combination of both photography and rendering. Context sensitive informational blurbs (sometimes a page or half a page) with simple graphics, appear throughout the book, giving information on waste, trash, types of trash and methods of recycling, etc. These also give information on street/working children, and physical elements around which the story flows (e.g. Buckingham Canal).
This is an interesting book, educative but not documentary style, so a young person could actually want to read it. It does not follow a standard story-line, and is realistic, in the sense that it does not have a contrived happy ending (i.e.; Velu still rag-picks at the end). The authors state this in the very beginning, so you know that it does not address the basic, harder questions which you'll probably get from your kids, i.e.; why do children have to rag-pick in the first place ?