PEANUT VS THE PIANO
By Yashodhara Lal
Duckbill Books, Hole Books Series, 2018, pp 65, R175.00
Peanut goes for piano classes and while she is happy enough when she begins them, she finds them a drudgery now. Her resentment against piano practice and being made to take piano exams make her hatch a plan to put an end to it all. Her teacher is disappointed, but when her mother discovers the devious way in which Peanut has been avoiding piano practice, her classes come to an end. When Peanut’s mother decides to sell her piano, Peanut realizes that her piano was not the monster she had made it out to be. The night before her piano is to be sold, Peanut is unable to sleep. That is when she discovers a plot to rob her neighbour. Peanut and the piano are united as heroes, and all ends well.
This was a book that I didn’t want to put down till I read it all. The overall feeling was one of an Enid Blyton adventure. The English names of two of the children, Peanut and Pickle, and Peanut learning the Spider’s Web on the piano both added to this feeling. Yashodhara Lal is a skilled story teller. And this book has everything a young child will enjoy reading—a good plot, pesky siblings, the tyranny of a parent, friendly dogs, villains and a happy ending. And it all comes together very smoothly. But I was left wondering if the ending of the book, that has Peanut going back to her piano, was a nod to parents.
The illustrations in this book are necessary to the reading of this tale. They are well-placed and make this story more enjoyable to read. However, Shreya Sen has made the characters look rather stereotypical. Peanut has long straight hair, she and her mother seem to be a bit ‘better-looking’ in comparison to Jain Aunty who is in a negative role. The robbers as well are nasty-looking, unkempt men with raspy voices. This was a bit unfortunate.
Overall, a good read.
Vinatha Viswanathan is an ecologist by training, works as an editor and science communicator at Eklavya Foundation, Bhopal. She enjoys spending time with her cat, her daughter and watching TV serials.