I LOVE BALLET

I LOVE BALLET

A mixed bag of sorts, here are three books that will leave you with… well, mixed feelings. While one of them stands out as a well-rounded picture book, the others fall short of the same brilliance.

I Love Ballet is a sweet story about a little girl’s love for dance, ballet in particular. Written in first person, the story puts the reader in the shoes of a cute ballerina who discovers that it is not just her, but the whole world – and everyone in it – that loves ballet! The owl sitting on the tree at night, the naughty squirrel near the playground, the emu at the zoo, her pets, her big brother… even her dad and mom! Delightfully heartwarming, I Love Ballet is a story that will put a smile on your face with its celebration of life and its simple pleasures. Illustrated beautifully by Sumedha Sah, the story comes to life in a style that’s whimsical yet full of character. A well-rounded picture book.

Golu, the Goldfish is the tale of a “clever, happy-go-lucky” goldfish who deals with a sudden and inexplicable case of the blues. He tries all sorts of things to cheer himself up but with no success. Until he discovers the true secret to happiness, that is. Without revealing too much, Golu achieves enlightenment after he “looks deep within”… with “deep within” being highlighted in bold and a different colour for emphasis! The story is as contrived as that sounds! Set in verse, and rhyme to boot, it feels a bit vacuous and may not really appeal to young children. Ajanta Guhathakurta’s illustrations add colour to the story without bringing any special magic to the words.

I Love Rain is a story that will put the reader in touch with her “inner Gourmet”, if you please. There’s an appreciation of the finer things in life in the narrative, with urbane references to “Eau de Earth”, opera and spaghetti. While they are quaint, and the scenarios somewhat offbeat (in a good way), they do seem a bit forced. Somehow, the story feels like it is a series of tableaus strung together to create a narrative. The illustrations have done a great job of raising the book many notches higher. Aisha Dev’s artwork is refreshingly child-like, and the illustrations have a disarming, casual quality to them. The earthy tones of the palette lend themselves very well to the text. The book ends with a couple of recipes, one for spaghetti and one for hot chocolate – a really nice touch to round off the reading experience.

In a nutshell, these feel-good stories don’t seem to have been written particularly for children. But since they are meant to be children’s books, they should ideally be read out (and explained) to children by adults. I say this because curious children are likely to ask a few questions. “What do you mean by Golu has the blues?” and “Where is Golu looking when he’s looking deep within?” are questions I had to answer to my six-year-old. The books handle their themes without any special attention to a child’s vocabulary or comprehension skills. A mixed bag, in the end.

By Shyam Madhavan Sarada

Books from Tota
I LOVE BALLET
Author: Pia Raina
Illustrators: Sumedha Sah
English
30 pages
Rs 250.00
ISBN: 978-81-7621-270-0
Tota Books, 2015

GOLU, THE GOLDFISH
Author: Pia Raina
Illustrators: Ajanta Guhathakurta
English
30 pages
Rs 250.00
ISBN: 978-81-7621-273-1
Tota Books, 2015

I LOVE RAIN
Author: Pia Raina
Illustrator: Aisha Dev
English
36 pages
Rs 250.00
ISBN: 978-81-7621-269-4
Tota Books, 2015
Subject Category: Contemporary/Fiction/Picture Book
Age-group: 5+

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