I WANT TO BEEEE by Written by Anushka Ravishankar. Illustrations by Rathna Ramanathan Tara Books, 2023, 41 pp., INR 750.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

This book gives wings to a child’s wishes. They imagine themselves to be a number of things apart from what they already are. We see quite a range in these imaginations, for instance, a cup of tea, atwelve-armed octopus, a sneeze, a tadpole’s tongue, a question mark, a smelly sock…and many many more.
The book attempts a mix of nonsense verse and typography forms. Twinning of the author and the illustrator can be felt on all pages. The alphabets and the words have been represented in the image form sometimes making them like a word puzzle. The book will certainly help the beginners trying to make the connection between the meanings and visual representations of the words.
Ramanthan has enhanced the reading experience of the book by using images, sound, colour, texture and voice in type play. One gets to see direct representation through many different kinds of connections throughout the book, for example, the word cup is shown with cup spelled in the shape of the cup and the same is done with question mark as well. Some of the connections are indirect and lateral. Sock from smelly sock is illustrated with the texture of the cloth. The way letters of the rocking chair have been written makes you feel that a chair is rocking showing its movement. A tube of glue is in the shape of a tube of glue. Bee is written as beeeeeeeeeeeee to make the reader feel a bee buzzing by. The words ‘a pie, a tie, a dotted I’ have been illustrated instead of being spelled.
However, I could not understand what wishes the duo are trying to show with‘a THINGA MAJIG…a where it’sat’ and‘A HOOJAMAFLIP…A dingDOODAD’.
There is colour mismatch in a few places like black cloud is shown blue, the orange peel pink and the reddish Mars pink. Children tryingto recognize colours might find it confusing. This can be a mistake in printing or one needs to go through the book a few more times to really understand it.
One of the strengths of any good book is that with every read there is always a new aspect and perspectives that can be explored. This book does exactly that. It starts interacting with the readers opening various layers every time they read it. Readers who see words visually and not just spell them will enjoy this book more.
The ending shows the child being self-content after imagining all their wishes which points to self-realization. Also, most books show gender as binary. But what’s special about this book is that gender neutral ‘I’ has been used which gives space to persons of various genders relating to the character.