Saturday, May 05, 2007

Prita Goes To India

prita goes to india prodeepta das children's book review
Prita Goes To India by Prodeepta Das

Suggested Ages: 4 to 8

Little Prita (age 7) and her sister Apa go to India with their parents. Prita narrates her experiences as she is writing down in her new holiday diary. They go to Orissa to visit some family and friends, and also travel around a little.

The book has many photos of her Indian relatives and their homes, the places Prita visits, and the things she sees, which to me was the attractive feature - rather than illustrations to show the same. Like, the trains, elephant, family kitchen with a meal being prepared, scooters, roadside stalls selling chai, paddy fields, beach, craftsmen making patchwork and pattachitras... all these photos bring the whole narration to life.

I found this at my public library and was interested in reading it to Ana, even though she is just a toddler. As we are planning to make a trip to India hopefully late this year, I was curious to see what Ana thinks of the people and the pictures in the book, to see if the photos make an impression on her. And they did!

Prita Goes to India is one of a series of photographic information books. The book gives a view of modern Indian life as well as a feel for how things are done differently, how everyday life goes on in villages and cities. Ana likes Prita, points her out by name in the book, and every time we've read it so far, she asks about the picture where Prita is drinking coconut water, and about the masks of Jagannath.

When I am looking for books these days, I keep in mind my seven year old niece and try to see if she'll enjoy reading it. This book fits the bill. My niece is about Prita's age, and has no idea about India, except the fact that her "Auntie Sheela" is from India and brings her Indian clothes and jewelry on and off :) I liked this book as it gently introduces food, clothes and customs of India through the eyes of a little girl who is growing up in a different country.

Thanks to Prita Goes To India, I can introduce two little kids in my life to the wonderful things that make India unique. Plus, as I have never been to Cuttack or Jalna, I enjoyed experiencing them through the photos and Prita's narration... As a bonus, there is a simple recipe at the back of the book for baras, and a glossary for easy look up of new terms.

Next on hold at the library is Shan-Yi Goes to China by Sungwan So and am quite eager to experience China the same way I experienced India in Prita Goes To India...

I am not sure if there are other books similar in concept that introduce kids to different states/regions of India: Prita meets her Ajini and Aai (grandpa and grandma); since Ana calls her maternal grandpa and grandma as Thaathaa and Thaathee (or Pattee), I am curious to see if there is something like Anjali Goes To Madras (Chennai), where Anjali happens to travel all over Tamil Nadu and record her experience...

Down the line for me is the Child's Day series of books, covering many countries including Vietnam, Lapland, Ghana, Egypt as well as India... and, while browsing for similar books, I found Frances Lincoln publishers to have a wonderful collection.

Being the first in a series of country books I am planning to read to Ana, I am inclined to give it four bindis, but, I would like to hold off until I read Geeta's Day by Prodeepta Das in the Child's Day series and come back and settle on a rating for this.


ranjani.sathish said...

sheela this seems to be a very interesting book, especially for kids growing outside India.As I was reading your review, thoughts similar to urs' came to mind as to how nice it would be to have such books on the different states of India. And then you said it :-).

"The World of Indian stories" (about which I have reviewed here on ST) might be a good book to introduce to your niece, as it talks about the various states of India through the stories. ofcourse there are not many illustrations or photos in this book. So a child might not enjoy it independently, but when read along with a parent or an adult makes for very interesting reading !


Praba Ram said...

Sheela -

Another interesting book by Prodeepta Das. One of the first reviews I wrote was about a book - "I is for India" by Prodeepta Das.

Interesting how our minds echo the same point about how nice it would be to have a book on each Indian state. I mentioned the exact same point in my earlier review on I is for India.

This is what I wrote..

The pictures are real life photos from India focusing mainly on children. The author, Prodeepta Das, has picked the pictures specific to his state, which I thought was quite interesting. It set me thinking, and thought it might be interesting to have a picture book for every state - O is for Orissa, P is for Punjab, T is for Tamilnadu ( in some cases, we could have two books - k for instance! :-)) We could do a whole series, and I am pretty sure we can find sights unique to each state that can fall in the alphabetical order. I loved the fact that the author has depicted pictures from both rural and urban settings."

Loved the pointer to the publisher and the whole series. Thanks!

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