Shiv Narayan Gour
PAATI’S GOLD by By Meenu Thomas. Illustrations by Kruttika Susarla Pratham Books, 2023, 24 pp., INR 80.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

Paati’s Gold, a picture story book for children, has as its core theme a family that is concerned about their failing rice crops. The story addresses a problem that many farmers in the country experience. As a result, the book becomes important to a wider audience.
The story begins with a fight between Paati and Appa. The children, Selvan and Savi, are not pleased with the conflict. The issue of their struggle is that they are concerned about failed rice crop due to the use of lab-created seed. Appa believes that the lab-created seed is the high-yielding variety, and the production would be high. Paati, on the other hand, is not convinced. Paati reassures the family that she has a solution in the form of gold. Paati withholds the gold until the very end of the story, when the family is on the verge of losing their fortune. Instead of using gold as is, she has used gold as a euphemism for the seeds of native rice varieties.
This short story sheds light on a variety of issues, including the issue with lab-created seeds, the importance of native varieties, the effect of crops on soil, the emotional and mental distress caused by a failed crop season on a family, the overall effect of the new types of seeds, the workings of a village community, and others.
Now, these issues are being addressed and discussed in many writings of fiction and non-fiction. However, creating a tale for children about these matters is vital and important. The story is told in an innovative way with the help of illustrations as well. Kruttika Susarla’s illustrations enhance the plot and make the book more vivid. Stories on such important subjects become more child-friendly by means of vibrant illustrations.
The absence of children’s character arcs is noticeable in the story. A story written for children does not give the characters of the children in the story much of a role. The children are distressed because of the quarrel between Appa and Paati, which raises a larger problem concerning the impact of familial acrimony on children. However, when a kid is reading a story in which the child’s character is given very little role, it may be difficult for them to relate to it. Nonetheless, the illustrations assist with this problem. The lively nature of children, as depicted in the illustrations, makes up for their absence in the text.
Overall, the book is enjoyable and entertaining to read. It discusses the issue of rice crops, yet this issue applies to other crops, making the story more inclusive. As previously stated, the book is not only for children, it may also be a fascinating read for individuals of all ages and can aid in learning about difficulties affecting rural regions in the country. Pratham Books, the publisher, has been playing a significant role in publishing children’s literature.