Sonu opens a tap to fill his bucket. How does water reach the pipes? Where does it come from? Accompanied by a cheerful brown puppy, the little boy sets off on an adventure to find out…
The cumulative text of the book flows smoothly, letting readers connect the dots easily, as they go down to the river, climb up the mountain and finally head down to the ocean with Sonu. But the book doesn’t end without answering the other big question likely to preoccupy the curious reader – what happens to the water that seeps back into the ground? At its simplest level, The Sea in a Bucket is an introduction to the water cycle. But, as in Sameer’s House, another Avehi-Abacus story, the theme of interconnectedness is explored here too, particularly through Deepa Balsavar’s illustrations.
In the very first doublespread in the book, while Sonu waits for his bucket to be filled, his puppy is busy filling his own little one! But that’s not all. An anxious mother holding on to a soap, mug and towel calls out to her son who’s running away – he doesn’t want to bathe! Elsewhere, a girl gives her dog a bowl of water to drink. Two friends smile contentedly at each other as they lick ice-candies. At first glance, the illustrator draws the reader’s attention to the indispensability of water and its presence in our daily lives, but a closer look reminds us that it is a shared resource. As we move from the neighbourhood to the river and then to the mountain, the pictures hint at the interdependence of all those who need water for survival.
The characters and elements across landscapes are easily identifiable because of Deepa Balsavar’s deliberately flat style. Even in terms of perspective and scale, the artwork seems to have been inspired by different folk art forms, though it bears no resemblance to any particular one. There are wonderful little touches throughout that offer scope for group discussion – whether it is the Tibetan peace flag which flutters at the corner of one page or the endangered snow leopard on another.
The type is easy on the eyes and the way the text has been laid-out is unobtrusive for the large part, if not particularly memorable. It would have been useful if the age group the book is meant for had been specified as well. The free poster that comes with the book is a terrific springboard for teachers and parents alike. A Hindi edition of the book, priced at Rs.45, is also available.
By Niveditha Subramaniam
An Avehi-Abacus Story
Illustrator: Deepa Balsavar
Subject category: Environment/Nature/Science