If you haven’t seen Madhuri Purandare’s children’s books before, you are in for a treat; for you are about to enter the utterly enchanting everyday world of little Yash.

Yash is a boy of three who lives with his parents, his grandfather and older sister in a city. For the sake of convenience, we will call it Pune. There are no heroic adventures, no novel situations, no grand morals, and yet every person, child or adult, who picks up these small, slim picture-books is likely to end up smiling. Because, we all know Yash; we know his family; they live next door to us; we can hear them and see them. We do not feel inadequate or envious as we get to know them because they are us.

There are six books in this series. Of the three under review, Mama’s Village has Yash going away on holiday, leaving the house and building empty and quiet. He returns home bringing news and noise and life back with him. Fracture has Yash breaking his arm and soon getting used to the attention showered upon him. Guest is about friendship and jealousy and learning to get along with others. The other books in the series, Big School, Bored and Masks, deal with more snippets from the everyday life of the little boy.

There is mastery at work here. Each character – Yash, of course – but also Yash’s sister Nikita, his mother and grandfather, Lata tai the household help and Tawde maushi the neighbor, are alive and clearly etched. It is the intimacy with which Madhuri knows these people and situations and is able to convey them to the reader that makes these books special. The text is spare with not a superfluous word and the dialogue just right. Madhuri’s illustrations are fluid and very evocative. The interactions between Yash and Nikita, their bickering and sibling love, are moments out of all our photo albums. The detailing is immaculate. With minimum clutter, Madhuri conveys so much about the family and their lives.

Do check out Madhuri’s other picture-books, especially her poster-books containing single, large illustrations of things like life on the city street, in the park and at a railway station. Madhuri has also translated books from French to English and written children’s chapter books.

This series has been translated from Marathi by Abhijeet Ranadive. The translation is adequate, but to get the full flavour of Yash’s world, there is nothing like hearing and reading the original. Curiously, not everything has been translated. Some words like “nangu pangu” have been left untouched probably because no translation was found appropriate. In that case, the ubiquitous “Aunty” is also no real replacement for “maushi” or “maami” or “kaki”. The usage of “vast” to describe the sea or “you keep mocking me” do not sound right coming from the mouth of your average three-year-old.

These, however, are mere quibbles. Marathi or English, the adventures of Yash form part of the select group of perfect books to keep and to gift. Thank you, Madhuri.

By Deepa Balsavar

Author: Madhuri Purandare
Illustrator: Madhuri Purandare
Translated from Marathi by Abhijeet Ranadive
24 pages each
Rs 35.00 each
Jyotsna Prakashan, 2013

Subject category: Contemporary/Series
Tags: Family/Growing up

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