On one end of the spectrum, you have children whose lives are over-scheduled with classes for every kind of scholastic and extracurricular activity, leaving them with very little time to do as they please. On the other hand, you have children who complain of constant boredom – they have the free time, but they are not actively engaged and remain unstimulated. Then, of course, there’s the usual decrying of addiction to technology causing the downfall of childhood as we know it.
The lack of time and/or resources among parents has made outsourcing activities for their children to people and gadgets the new norm. So, a book which allows children to explore different avenues of creativity and imagination is always welcome. And to Make. Do. Be’s credit, it manages to fit all this within a firm Indian context.
The book has been divided into seven categories – Art, Creative Expression, Food, Languages, Photography, Fashion, and Science and Nature. A varying number of inventive activities fill each category, with Art and Food leading the number with eleven and nine respectively. Those inclined towards Fashion and Creative Expression may find the four activities in each section disappointingly sparse, but there’s plenty else to fill their hours.
There’s an ingenious activity for nearly every kind of child, and each one comes with vibrant, engaging illustrations. The design is anarchic, wherein no one spread quite matches another. The pages are wild and exuberant. While an adult might miss consistency in design, kids are sure to love the magazine-esque colourful chaos.
An interview with a specialist in the relevant field precedes each section in the book. The answers (some more kid-friendly than others) give the reader a glimpse behind the scenes of unusual occupations. The last question for the photographer asks him to suggest an activity for the readers. This is what he says: “Here is a fun lesson to do, which in fact, I did when I started. Find the letter ‘O’ in real life on the streets of Mumbai and try to shoot at least 20 different photos with ‘O’ in them.” This is a fascinating feature which would have been a great addition to every interview
Most instructions are easy to follow, but some activities could have done with an additional step or two to make them easier to understand at first glance. ‘Iris Folding’, ‘Spirelli Thread Art’ and ‘Terrific Tie & Dye’ may need to be read a couple of times before the reader understands the exact process.
Unfortunately, the reviewer’s copy had a serious binding error, which meant that some of the pages were missing, and pages from another part of the book appeared in their place. This was an annoying hindrance, and made the Art section of the book a rather tricky and incomplete experience. According to the index, the missing activities included ‘Your Family Globe’, ‘3D Thrills’, ‘Origami’ and ‘Coffee Painting’ as well as, one assumes, the interview with an artist.
The book succeeds in laying out inventive activities to keep a child (or an enthusiastic adult) stimulated and busy creating. A handful of activities indicate adult help, but largely, children can pick up the book – team up with a sibling, grab a friend or go ahead solo – and be left to their own devices. The book offers endless scope for new ideas, where the only thing restricting children is their imagination.
By Parinita Shetty
MAKE. DO. BE.
Author: Shikha Lal
Illustrator: Dhanashri Ubhayakar
Funokplease Publishing, 2015
Subject Category: Contemporary/Non Fiction/Activity Book