Rekha Bhimani
PIKU KI CHHOTI SI DUNIYA by Saumyak Ghoshal. Illustrations by Proiti Roy Pratham Books, Level 3, 2020, 20 pp., 55.00
November 2020, volume 44, No 11

A child’s universe, where the bird and animal kingdom is as much a part of existence as the reassuring  presence of Mummy-Papa.

Author Saumyak Ghoshal has beautifully evoked Piku’s mental landscape populated by sparrows and squirrels, cats and lizards, moths and mosquitos.  The shadow-play of daylight and darkness impacts Piku, like any other child, at a deeper level.

But the book is not just about Piku’s pristine wonderment at the surrounding world. The author has very boldly introduced the concept of permanent loss–death of a parent–in the book. Piku’s mother passes away. No more listening to stories lying by her side on hot summer afternoons.

But again, THAT is not what the book is about.  The author has handled this tragic event with great sensitivity and restraint. Resisting the temptation to dwell on his protagonist’s loss, he moves on with Piku, as he observes the starry night sky with his father continuing to explore the amazing world around him.

And then, Piku discovers the magic of words. He begins to read. Books open up a whole new universe of joy for Piku.

Proity Roy’s illustrations have a lovely dreamy quality that briefly dips into darker shades of Piku’s mindspace.

The Hindi translation could have been simpler in terms of syntax, considering this book is meant for children who are just about ready to read on their own.  There is a stiffness and awkwardness in prose that comes from not breaking out of the English idiom and thinking in Hindi.

A somewhat bold and yet very relatable subject for a child discovering the joys of reading.

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