ABOUT THE BOOKSThe Thinkbook series consists of My Big Book of Dogs!, My Big Book of Girls, My Big Book of Global Warming, My Big Book of Earth and My Big Book of Kindness. These books are an attempt to draw the attention of young minds to big ideas such as kindness, climate change, gender, etc. Designed for easy reading and reference, with illustrations and photographs, these anthologies of fiction, non-fiction and poetry pieces will also provide useful material for classroom projects, debates and discussions.
- The Thinkbook series is a set of theme-centric anthologies with a clear educational focus. Using short stories, real-life anecdotes, factoids, poems, and varied illustrations, each book broaches a different subject matter. The Big Book of Global Warming and The Big Book of Earth deal with environmental issues, while The Big Book of Dogs and The Big Book of Kindness discuss compassion and empathy, and The Big Book of Girls foregrounds issues like education and empowerment in the context of young girls’ lives.
- The books are useful as a teaching resource. They will work best in classroom scenarios when the content can be animated for children by a teacher. Many of the stories and excerpts open themselves up nicely to interpretation, and can be used to spark off discussions. For instance, the story about Savitribai Phule in The Big Book of Girls can be used to introduce ideas of social reform, and to prompt children to think about how social movements work.
- The series is explicitly action-oriented. In the ‘Theme Talk’ section at the end of each book, readers are encouraged to take small, easy steps towards creating change – such as planting trees, or turning off taps, or taking bucket baths instead of showers (from The Big Book of Global Warming). This is a good way of suggesting to a child that every action has an impact, and cultivating a sense of responsibility about the way we affect the social and natural world.
- Some of the illustrations are interesting, and can be used to introduce children to artists and artistic styles. For instance, The Big Book of Kindness features art by M.F. Husain and John Gould, while The Big Book of Girls features a few pages of Madhubani art.
- The books are filled with so many different types of narratives and pictures that it’s easy for some good sections to get lost. For example, the evocative and beautifully illustrated story called ‘The Glass Tree’ (from The Big Book of Earth) is sandwiched between pages of anecdotes and ideas, and doesn’t catch as much of the reader’s attention as it deserves.
- The production of the books leaves much to be desired. Varied text layouts, font styles and sizes, and the clashing use of photographs and art make the content visually unappealing and difficult to absorb. A few of the books carry text and illustrations on the inside front covers, which looks tacky.
- The didactic tone of the text and the mishmash of visuals make it difficult for readers to connect with the content in these books, especially when they pick it up on their own.