Cats and dogs are sure -fire characters to appeal to young children! The story begins well with a dramatic feel to it. The colours the author-illustrator has used are dark and strong and catch the eye. The cat sits up on a roof when the sudden movement of a bat upsets his balance. He falls…and falls again to find himself in a sticky situation. Good so far but then there are some questions that come up. Why should the cat feel happy to turn white? Should we not be wary of conveying these casual messages to young minds? The story continues and we are told that a burst of rain restores the original colour to the black cat which saddens him! He then has an unexpected encounter with a white cat and we presume they live happily ever after. However, the theme seems a bit grown-up for a young child. This gives the opportunity to explain how a story can be simple and yet convey possibilities which are suited to the child’s age. In this book, I am afraid the author does not achieve this. Also she has a slight disconnect with young children, I feel. They do not think of animals as ‘it’, do they? That is my experience. Having given clear genders to her two cats, she could have eliminated the use of ‘it’!
The illustrations are striking but again there is an element of ‘adultness’ in the characterisations. I feel that this young author/illustrator could continue to write for children but put in some solid time in a literature survey of young children’s literature. I would suggest some classic books like “Goodnight Gorilla,” “The Umbrella,” “What is the shape of an elephant,” “Babboon,” and others she may discover as she browses.
The translation by Sandhya Rao was excellent and conveyed the flavour of the language in telling the story.
By Usha Mukunda
Author and Illustrator : Alankrita Jain
Translator: Sandhya Rao
Page: 17(But the book has no page numbers!)
Price: Rs. 95.00
Publisher: Tulika books, 2011
Subject category: Picture Books