Andal Jagannathan
GAJARAJU: A BABY ELEPHANT by By Aparna Kapur. Illustrated by Krishna Bala Shenoi Pratham Books, 2023, 12 pp., INR 85.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

The book’s cover and the first few pages are predominantly black, setting the background just right for the narrative’s introductory theme—the dark night. Soon the background colour changes to white with the main character—a young child—venturing out into the world with a sense of wonder and curiosity.
The book touches upon both tangible and intangible concepts. The child explores trees, mud, and cakes, as well as the dark, and abstract concepts of love, and confusion.
While a treat for young readers, the book is a useful read for adults too. It awakens the child in us. Terms such as ‘what confusion tastes like’ and ‘I ate a dream’, bring back a forgotten sense of curiosity and wonder. The last page acknowledges the ‘magic’ that is all around us. After reading the book, I stopped to look around, observe, and appreciate so many everyday things that I take for granted. From the shining sun to the gentle breeze bringing the scent of champa flowers in full bloom, to frolicking squirrels and chirping birds—I took it all in and sent a silent ‘thank you’ to the author.
The illustrations, capturing a sense of wonder and curiosity, touch the right chord in readers’ minds. My favourite is the last page with the serene expression on the child’s face.