Books For Beginners
Sudarshan Khanna
TOYS AND PLAY WITH EVERYDAY MATERIALS by Padma Baliga Tara Books, 2018, 111 pp., 800
November 2018, volume 42, No 11

This amazing book by Sudarshan Khanna et al brings to mind the Chinese saying about a man not having to starve if he knows fishing. Certainly, kids can keep themselves engaged for hours with this book as they figure out how to make the toys, how to make them work, and how to play with them in a zillion creative ways. The book contains step-by-step instructions and illustrations to make a range of toys—toys that make noise (oh, joy!) toys  that move with the wind, toys that play tricks, toys that dance … In addition, it explains the science behind the functioning of the toys and offers ideas on what to do if it doesn’t quite do what it ought.

All the toys described here can be made with material found in most homes—newspaper, cardboard, string, pencils, sticks, clay—you get the idea. They help reinforce the notion that everything can be recycled, upcycled, reused or remade. The book—a paean to a culture unmarked by consumerism—challenges the commonly accepted notion that toys can be found only in specialized shops or the aisles of a supermarket. After all, haven’t you seen how babies and toddlers enjoy the rustle of the gift wrapper more than the actual gift inside? Or how little ones can play for hours with onions and potatoes and spoons and bowls, oblivious to the charms of colourful mass-produced toys that do not stimulate the imagination but deplete one’s wallet.

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