Forgive me for not being able to shout from the rooftops about this one. I have looked and re-looked to see if I am missing some magic that might be lurking within the now-familiar, clean, colour-on-white-background pages of Tulika’s bilingual books, but I came up with little.
A big box, a pair of walking sticks, a long red dupatta… Neelu has everything she needs to make a big fort. But she suddenly trips and falls and the box becomes flat. Agree, this story line is positively gendered towards a creative imagination that may not come naturally to a young reader who is predicting what Neelu will do with a big cardboard box. Both Neelu’s creations are off-mainstream notions and perhaps in that lies a quality that makes Neelu’s Big Box an also-must-read.
Rather than the box, what catches my eye on many pages are Neelu’s slippers, mango-shaped and awkward on her feet, and then they fade away, leaving me wondering if this book could have had more. Or perhaps one learns to be content with a simple box and a more complex imagination.
By Sujata Noronha
Author: Nandini Nayar
Illustrator: Shreya Sen
Tulika Publishers, 2015
Subject Category: Contemporary/Fiction/Picture Book