Vishesh Unni Raghunathan
THE CROCODILE WHO ATE BUTTER CHICKEN FOR BREAKFAST AND OTHER STORIES
By Khyrunnisa A. Illustrations by Meenakshi Iyer
Red Panda, 2020, pp.189, Rs 249.00
Age: 9 yrs+
Filled with word plays, a bit of silliness and a lot of fun, The Crocodile Who Ate Butter Chicken for Breakfast and Other Stories is a collection of short stories which centres around animals, and the people around them.
The author, Khyrunnisa A is an excellent storyteller, with an eye for a story in the little things which others might miss. She picks small ideas, and fleshes them out to engaging and interesting stories, whether it is snails who have an objection to Shakespeare (can you guess the lines?) or a crocodile which loves butter chicken. There’s also a frog which doesn’t turn into a prince, and a turkey that doesn’t land up on the dining table for Christmas. Not everything is about the animals themselves—Karthik discovers not all kites are raptors, and there’s a window of hope that the professor might actually find his glasses.
The language is simple, and with plenty of puns and wordplays woven through the narrative, the author keeps us guessing. What happens when a grandma’s dying wish is to name her granddaughter Snowy and the new neighbour wants a dog called Snowy? How about shouting Tsunami at the beach? Not quite what you think!
The author builds characters who are unique and memorable through their quirks and habits. The clever little twists leave you pleasantly satisfied. The illustrations by Meenakshi Iyer add sufficiently to the making of the book.
The author’s style also allows for some new words to be introduced especially to young readers in an engaging way—Eruditesnail and Prodigysnail are not just smart, but also meaningful.
Each story is about ten pages long, and there are twenty stories in the collection. While some of the stories are from the perspective of the animals, others are from the perspective of the people. A light and engaging collection, the stories should be understandable to children aged nine and above, but can also be enjoyed by adults.