Once your kids are past the input-output stage (food in-poop out), and they venture into the big bad world where other people exist, their (and your) existence begins to revolve around the F-word – Friends, I mean. “Will you be my friend?” “She’s not being my friend!” “No one wants to be my friend” “He’s my best friend ever!” It’s the genesis of a concern that will persist throughout school and college and even life beyond.
And, as people grow, friendships change. Sometimes they are all about sharing common interests with “like-minded” people; sometimes they are about being part of the crowd; sometimes they are made to bag that role in a film or win that contract.
But very few people retain the innocence of a friendship that bonds two children for the simple reason that they like to play with each other.
Tiji and Cheenu is the story of one such friendship. Tiji and Cheenu are as different from each other as a vada pav and a bhel puri. They look different and they enjoy different things. Yet, when they meet, all their differences melt. In the comfort zone of friendship, wrapped in the happiness of being with someone they like, they enjoy simple joys like playing, talking, laughing.
Meenu Thomas captures the happiness of this uncomplicated friendship very nicely with minimalistic text, while Proiti Roy’s utterly charming visuals give the book so much character. This book could work well as a read-aloud or as an early reader – in English as well as Hindi (my copy is a bilingual English-Hindi one; the book has been published bilingually in English and other Indian languages too).
Tiji and Cheenu is a book for small children, very small children – three years and above. Yet it has at its heart a very old truth – that twin souls can reside in completely disparate bodies. And when these connect, they make for the best-est of besties.
By Lubaina Bandukwala
Author: Meenu Thomas
Ilustrator: Proiti Roy
Tulika Publishers, 2016
Subject Category: Contemporary/Fiction/Picture Book