TCA Sharad Raghavan
LETTERS FROM MOM by By Nandini Nayar. Illustrations by Subir Roy Children’s Book Trust, 2022, 16 pp., INR 60.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

The book won first prize in the category Kid-Friendly Non-Fiction (7-10 year) in the Competition for Writers of Children’s Books organized by CBT. The author has written three other books published by CBT—The House of 14 Cats, Mouse and Bear, and Prince Zafar’s Very Important Notebook—apart from stories in several collections.
The title of the book is somewhat misleading at first, since it’s not about a maternal relationship but in fact are fictional letters written by the Mangalyaan or Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). In that respect, however, the book is outstanding. The personalized letter format, as if MOM is itself writing back to Earth, is a great way to not only introduce children to the Mars Mission itself, but also help them engage with the step-by-step process of sending a ship to another planet.
It’s not just a matter of pressing a button here and that’s it. Each step—from launch to leaving Earth’s atmosphere to detaching the initial thrust rockets to navigating to Mars and entering its orbit—is documented as a personal letter from MOM, complete with pangs of joy, exhilaration and, inevitably, loneliness is the vastness of space.
The book is aimed at slightly older readers, clearly, but hits that aim very well.