UNDER MY BED_MY BEST FRIEND

UNDER MY BED_MY BEST FRIEND

Bilingual picture books for early readers are brilliant because of the comfort zone the more familiar language creates for the child, and that combined with the illustrations takes away any fear of reading the child may have. I particularly appreciate the concept, especially because I’m bringing up a child outside India and still want him to know his linguistic roots.

Anupa Lal’s My Best Friend and Under My Bed are good examples of this genre. The first is for very young children who are just beginning to discover books and the second is for children the next level up, where they are actually attempting to read the words themselves. The narrative is simple in English as well as in Hindi as is the vocabulary used, making it appropriate for the target age-groups.

However, the translation lets the books down slightly. At places, the English version is slightly different in nuance when compared to the Hindi one. For example, “My friend lives inside the mirror” in My Best Friend is a fairly bland sentence devoid of any connotations. But the Hindi “Meri saheli mere shishe mein band hai” has distinct negative overtones. The author would have done better to choose one or the other nuance (the blander one preferably as this is a children’s book) and stayed with that. Another example where the grammatical nuance in English hasn’t quite made it to the Hindi version is when “I tell her” becomes “Mein kehti rehti hoon”. Bilingual books actually teach the readers a language they don’t necessarily know well and so writers have a responsibility in making sure that the original idea is not lost in translation.

That aside, the books are made special by Suvidha Mistry’s simple but effective illustrations. The whole concept of a ‘friend in the mirror’ in My Best Friend, which might have been otherwise complicated for the very young reader to grasp, is brought alive by her lovely drawings. And the dark blue sky, looming black shadows, the wind-blown curtain and big frightened eyes all make us shake with the same fear that the little boy feels in Under the Bed! The picture of him cuddling with his mother at the end is most endearing.

Brilliantly priced at Rs. 30 each, these two books are a good addition to any early reader’s library.

By Mohua Bhattacharya

MY BEST FRIEND
Author: Anupa Lal
Illustrator: Suvidha Mistry
12 pages
English-Hindi (Bilingual)
Rs 30.00
ISBN: 978-93-5022-296-6
Pratham Books, 2015

UNDER MY BED
Author: Anupa Lal
Illustrator: Suvidha Mistry
12 pages
English-Hindi (Bilingual)
Rs 30.00
ISBN: 978-93-5022-320-8
Pratham Books, 2015

Subject Category: Contemporary/Fiction/Picture Books
Age-group: 2+

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