Paper Play could have been aptly subtitled “The Journey of a Piece of Paper”. Manju finds a sheet of paper that she has no use for. She crumples and throws it away, only for it to land on Wasim’s head. Wasim thinks it is a paper ball while his sister Syeda transforms it into a lollipop. From this point onwards, readers are taken on a roller coaster ride to observe the many articles that a piece of paper morphs into as it changes hands. There is no stopping these imaginative kids until a pet donkey enters the scenario. Paper Play, a picture book written by Mala Kumar, is a play on perspectives and the flights of fancy.
Illustrator Ruchi Shah brings her expertise with paper collages as visuals that reinforce the theme. The paper art is quirky and unique but needs more allure. Readers are not to miss hair designed like paper spaghetti and Manju’s ethnic dress. While it may not be every child’s cup of hot chocolate, Paper Play offers you more than just a story. Here is a wonderful opportunity for children to replicate the idea either in classrooms or at home in the form of discussions or activity to prompt an understanding of multiple perspectives.
With its tongue-in-cheek ending, multicultural characters and the pet donkey (and lack of subtitle, of course), Paper Play makes for a sprightly read. It is an entertaining change from the more direct moral based stories so commonly found for young readers.
By Benita Fernando
Author: Mala Kumar
Illustrator: Ruchi Shah
Price: Rs. 25.00
Publisher: Pratham Books, Bangalore, 2011
Subject category: Contemporary/Activity
Age group: 3+