Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Beautiful Bananas

A year or two back, we accidently came across the book called 'Beautiful Bananas'. One look at the colour and illustrations made us buy the book immediately. The book was gifted to Sooraj by one of Ranjani's close friends. The book is written by Elizabeth Laird and the colourful illustrations are by Liz Pichon.

It is a wonderful story is based in Africa. It is the story of Beatrice who decides to visit her grandfather with a bunch of bananas as a present to him. The story starts with her wishing mother good-bye; as she starts her trek through a forest to reach her grandpa. On the way, many colour ful animal characters come and play an important role in the story.

She meets a giraffe first, which accidently flicks its tufty tail and the bananas fly away from Beatrice's hands. Beatrice is crestfallen; but, giraffe puts smile back into her face by picking up some flowers for her. Beatrice decides to take these flowers instead of bananas to her grandpa. Soon, flowers attract some excited bees and the flowers get crushed by them. Bees feel sorry too; and decide to give her something else for the trouble they caused. And so on, the story continues with many other wonderful animals creating a loss for Beatrice, but, providing her with an alternative for the trouble they caused her. Finally, before she reaches her grandpa, she gets back the bunch of bananas she had lost initially.

It is a wonderful circular story. This is what Elizabeth Laird says about this book -- "I heard so many wonderful circular stories when I was collecting tales in Ethiopia that this one just seemed to write itself. And Liz Pichon's pictures are perfect."

Liz Pichon's illustrations are absolutely great. The illustrations are very colourful, bright and teeming with life. All the animals have a beautiful smile on their faces (even the bees). As the review in Publisher's Weekly about this book points out - every page in the book has a rather mysterious looking eyes that peep out from behind the leaves. There is no mention about this animal/bird at all in the whole book. It would be a fun exercise to find out these mysterious eyes in every page along with your kid. Also, the size of animals do not always correlate to real life; for example in a page where Beatrice is talking with a parrot; the parrot looks bigger and massive than the girl. But, this does not take away the fun and enjoyment of the illustrations.

The last page is a great treat as Beatrice reaches her Grandpa's place to meet him. There is great excitement in air and all the animals(including the mysterious eyes) that she met on her way look out eagerly from behind the trees as Beatrice rushes to hug her grandpa with her present - the beautiful bananas.

It is a story where humans and animals talk with each other kindly and can understand each other very well and live in great harmony. Wish the world is like this too! My only regret is the name of the character - Beatrice. It somehow seems to be out of place for a story set in Africa. I wish they had chosen some other name.

Update #1: Ranjani corrected me. We did not buy the book as I mentioned above initially, rather, it was gifted to us by one of our friends coming back from UK. The book is published by Oxford University Press.

1 comment:

Praba Ram said...

that's a neat one! First entry for Africa keeping in line with our globally relevant themes! What a fun, circular story - perfect for little ones, isn't it? Definitely speaks for the love of stoy telling traditions that exist in different cultures...

I chuckled at the subtly negative comment about the illustration of the parrot being bigger than the funny...good catch! And the name too...

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