SHABANA AND THE BABY GOAT
By Samina Mishra. Illustrations / design by Roshini Pochont
Tulika, 2018, pp. 28, R175.00
It is natural that the children develop a connection with animals around them. Some of the studies have even said that the kids actually love animals more than toys. In the process of emotional development of children, animals play a vital role. Hence, they are often attracted to the books with animals in it and it adds to their fascination when they encounter those, which they get to see daily around them. I have read Shabana and the Baby Goat again and again and even attempted to have a look at it from the point of view of readers it was written for.
This is a story of two best friends; Kajari, a baby goat and Shabana, a four years old girl. Right from the day she was born, Kajari and Shabana have been with each other, growing up together. Often, children develop a close bond with the pets and animals living in around their houses, like cows, dogs, cats, buffalos. We might even find them conversing seriously with the animals as if both the parties can understand what the other says.
The book let’s us peep into the day-to-day activities of a goat. Both of them are just happy being with one another. But these happy days end soon, as Kajari develops a troublesome habit of chewing whatever she comes across; food, pages of books and even Phuphho’s burka. Then everyone is set on mission to stop her.
Roshini’s illustrations are just lively! Shabana and Kajari’s happy faces surely attract readers. But I feel that, if the names of the characters would have been different, and not Shabana or Phupphi, thereby avoiding and breaking away from the typical community stereotypes. However, the story has already managed to do this to a large extent and they are visible especially towards the end. I must say that this book has the quality of attracting both; children and adult readers.
SAAF BILLI साफ बिल्ली
By Kanchan Benarjy. Illustrations / design by Deepa Balsavar
Pratham Books, 2019, pp.12, R35.00
Shivnarayan GourWe are aware of how children and animals share an emotional connection. Children particularly like books with references to animals and animals as characters. The one that we are talking about here is Saaf Billi by Kanchan Benarjy. The central character of the story is a cat. The story unfolds about how a cat looks at the world around her.
Commonly, when children explain about their conversation with the animals, they can also tell what the animals talked to them. In such cases, we can imagine how exciting it would be for them to read a story narrated by an animal. With its interesting plot, the lively illustrations by Deepa Balsavar add on to the effect.
Something that bothers me about the book is that it leans somewhat towards informing children. Take for example, when the cat says, I don’t need to be bathed, I clean myself. I feel that when children read books, they just want to enjoy reading it and such a way of introducing concepts might just hamper the joy they take in reading. In the case where one wishes to write a book particularly focusing on cats and their habits, one should rather consider information as genre, rather than as fiction, so that the readers will be more aware of what to expect from the book.
The plot is indeed creative, but it still has a lot of scope to be better.
Shivnarayan Gour has been working with Eklavya for more than fifteen years. He is mainly involved the with book development team of the publication programme, and with the reading initiative programme of the organization.