Biography of a Place
Tultul Biswas
PEEK-A-BOOK: FOR TODDLERS OF ALL AGES by Kaori Takahashi TARA Books, Chennai, 2020, 32 pp., 600.00
TAIL TALEby Poetry by Anushka Ravishankar. Art by Tushar and Mayur Vayeda TARA Books, Chennai, 2020, 20 pp., 600.00
December 2020, volume 44, No 12

Each an eight page fold out hard-board book, this set of four books, Peek-a-Book by Kaori Takahashi has been very well conceptualized and designed. One of the books deals with a friend’s birthday and is called Birthday Surprise. As you unfold the sturdy hard-board colourfully illustrated pages one by one, you start from your own home and come across a friend with a balloon on the way, then a balloon-seller’s shop, a baker’s store with cakes and sweetmeats, and more friends join you, and then a patch of wild flowers, till you reach this friend’s house and all of you cry out aloud ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’!

Another one titled Who’s Hungry? unfolds in the opposite direction. It goes up and up and then you find the long-necked giraffe munching away on leaves and fruits!

The third one is called The Tree and it too opens out upwards like the giraffe book, and as you go along, you discover the many little animals and birds who live on that tree—mostly hidden from our otherwise non-observant eyes. The fourth and last one titled Boo! and is the perfect peek-a-boo book that has many characters with hidden faces who ‘Boo’ at you as soon as you turn the page!

Wordless, with powerful images that speak to the young minds, these books cross the boundaries of language and can be enjoyed by toddlers anywhere. The art-work is very evocative and the book production just right for the age where a long-lasting friendship with books can start taking roots. These books should be part of the essential kit of every aanganwadi and early childhood care centre.

The pack says Set 01, so we can hope and wait eagerly for the next sets to arrive!

Tail Tale  is quite simple—a cat is attracted to the many tails in other animals around her. She finds her own to be very unruly and tricky and instead wants the one the dog has, the one the mouse has, the one the pig has, then even the one the snake has! And each time she faces some simple realities of how each of their tails is as mundane as a straight line, or a bangle, or a squiggle and so on. Until, she sees a magical, shiny, silky tail of some animal—in the waters—and comes out to the other side with her own shiny and swishy tail—no less than the best!

And that’s where the simplicity ends, and what begins in the form of telling of this tale in words and images and an interplay of the two is PURE MAGIC! The tale is set in verse–in quirky quintains and quartets, playfully woven—as playfully as a cat’s tail that all cat-lovers can vouch for. ABCCB and ABCB, the rhythm goes, and as you read along, the tail is sure to rub your funny bone with its humorous and lively antics. It is another one of Anushka Ravishankar’s best books. Although comparisons may not be the best way to compliment poets and authors, I think I should risk it and go public with my long-time privately nurtured thought. I proclaim Anushka as the future Roald Dahl of Indian English children’s literature. And this book certainly takes her one huge notch closer! I just wait eagerly for her to churn out some longer tales, with some more twists and turns—in verse.

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