Annie Pruthi
SO JA ULLU AND OTHERS by Kanak Shashi, Soumya Shukla, Atanu Roy, Ishaan Dasgupta, Shubhashree Mathur, Shailaja Srinivasan and Vinatha Vishwanathan Eklavya, Bhopal, 2023, pp., 685
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

A series of books published by Eklavya is perfect for your kids! Be it So Ja Ullu which is an amusing tale of an owl in search of sleep or Jumbo Haathi, a pet elephant of a little girl who loves to spend time with it, be it Chiknik Choo about a buffalo who is irritated with the questions of lice on its head, or Cows which is certainly an interesting counting book, or be it Listen to Appa about a little girl who would not let go of her father’s grip, or be it about Amma’s Journeyand her vague instructions that leave her grandkids to pack all the wrong things for her train journey.
One such wonderful children’s board book, So Ja Ullu, is beautifully illustrated by the gifted Bhooribai. This charming story opens the nocturnal world via an owl’s eyes, making it ideal for young kids. Set in a forest, it revolves around an owl, who is having a difficult time falling asleep. The story develops through an amusing series of wildlife disturbances. Woodpeckers tap on the trees through their beak, deer rustle through the leaves and squirrels nibble on grain, while the owl makes a valiant effort to fall asleep. Frantic morning chorus is augmented by the buzzing of bees, monkeys playing and crows cawing. However, as soon as night falls, a calm stillness envelopes the forest. The story takes a wonderful turn as the woodland is awakened by the owl’s ‘cha cha cha’. This quirky touch gives an already fascinating story the ideal ending.
It’s right to say that the lovely story is given life by Bhooribai’s pictures, which turn it into a visual feast.
Another board book Jumbo Haathi in Hindi is an endearing story which describes a girl’s love for Jumbo, her pet elephant. The relationship between the two is beautifully illuminated in Soumya Shukla’s vibrant artwork. The book shows their shared activities such as singing and watching TV together, in addition to their leisure activities. It’s ideal for young readers because of its durable board book shape, which will last through multiple reads. Jumbo Haathi highlights fellowship, amusement, and the fundamental pleasures of spending time with a special buddy.
The wonderful counting book Cows by Nandini Majumdar introduces young readers to the fascinating world of Varanasi’s streets, where cows hold a special place. It features charming pictures by Ishaan Dasgupta. This book not only engages children in the joyful practice of counting but also invites them to explore the behaviour of cows.

The Hindi board book Chiknik Choo by Sushil Shukla, enhanced with enthralling pictures by Atanu Roy, promises to make young readers laugh out loud. Children are transported into a fanciful world where a buffalo takes refuge in the water only to be bombarded by the persistent questions of lice that are living on its head. These curious lice make amusing associations with Hindi phrases as they enquire into the enigmas of horns, reflections, tail wags, and the size of a buffalo’s intellect. An unexpected and hilarious twist occurs when the buffalo’s displeasure grows and it splashes water, shocking the interested creatures and other aquatic animals. Young readers will like the book and it can be used for many readings because of its sturdy board style, which guarantees its endurance. The endearing combination of humour and wisdom in Chiknik Choo elevates it above the level of a simple story, making it a suitable addition to the children’s section of your library.
Of all the fascinating stories I’ve read, Amma’s Journey/Amma ka Safar and Listen to Appa/Appa ki Sunana entertained me the most.
Readers embark on a pleasant voyage with Amma, a grandmother on the go, in Asha Nehemiah’s Amma’s Journey, also translated as Amma Ka Safar. This bilingual story (in Hindi and English) is published by Eklavya and features detailed illustrations by Barkha Lohia.
Nina and Abu, her enthusiastic grandkids, assist Amma with packing as she dashes to catch her train. Some of their decisions turn out to be amusing as they try to understand Amma’s hasty directions. Amma’s instructions are vague, but the grandkids do not ask any questions. The whole packing is being done by them as per Amma’s orders.
When Amma orders that the ‘blue ones’ have to be packed so that they can be used in water, she does not specify her reference to shoes. So, the kids pack a blue umbrella and a blue bucket. This is followed by a red thing which Amma wanted for the night. The red item is a torchlight, but since she forgets to mention that too, the kids pack something else. A sequence of entertaining mishaps occurs as the journey progresses. Amma’s meal gets put in the wrong bags, which results in unforeseen interactions and new connections. A surprising twist emerges when the ticket collector asks Amma to show her ticket and it is revealed that Amma’s ticket was meant for the zoo, not the train. Meanwhile, the next day Abu and Nina have to purchase a new ticket for the zoo.
The illustrations of Amma’s Journey by Barkha Lohia are indeed brilliant. The narrative is wonderfully woven together by each image, which vividly depicts Amma’s rush and the kids’ hilarious packing. Every element is evidence of Lohia’s artistic ability, from Nina and Abu’s expressive faces to the funny interpretation of Amma’s directions.
Amma’s Journey masterfully blends uplifting and humorous moments to perfectly convey the essence of familial ties and celebrates the bond between Amma and her grandkids.
Another book by Asha Nehemiah, Listen to Appa/Appa ki Sunana which features charming illustrations by Shubhashree Mathur, takes young readers on a lighthearted adventure with Kala and her father, Appa. This bilingual book is available in Hindi and English. Kala enthusiastically follows Appa as he leaves for Paati’s residence as the rain stops. Amma advises Kala to follow Appa’s directions. Kala is adamant about not letting go of Appa’s strong grip. She takes his instructions literally, which results in hilarious misadventures including jumping over puddles when asked not to walk over it and whispering when asked not to speak loudly. These simple errors give the story a lighthearted element. An appealing quality of a child’s obedience is shown by Kala’s sincere desire to follow her father’s instructions in this story. It’s certainly a lovely addition to any child reader’s library and would leave them giggling.