Saturday, September 08, 2007

ish by Peter H Reynolds

Pic Source : Amazon

This book has been sitting on our book shelf for a long time now, beckoning me to do a review of it each time I pick it up. So beautiful is the book, that I want to do full justice to it in this review ! We will first go into the story before I explain the highlights of the book.

Ramon is a young boy who loves to draw. He is so passionate about drawing that he draws at all odd times, anything and everything that he sights. One day as he is drawing a vase of flowers, his elder brother ridicules him by laughing at the not so perfect drawing. Something snaps inside Ramon. He feels totally crushed. In the following days, whatever Ramon draws he is not satisfied and he crumples and throws away his drawings. His brother's taunts continue to haunt him. He is unable to love and enjoy what he is doing. One fine day he decides to give up drawing for good because he thinks his drawings are not perfect. As he crumples up the sheet and throws it away, he catches his sister grabbing it and running away. He chases his sister to her room and there to his amazement, he see the wall full of his crumpled drawings ! He is speechless and the his sister points to the drawing of vase and tells him that it is her favourite ! He grumbles that it was MEANT to be a vase, but it doe not really look like one. Then his sister says those golden words " looks Vase-ish" ! He looks deeply at that drawing and agrees with his sister. Suddenly a whole new world seems to open up for him ! He feels convinced that it is okay for the drawings to be a little imperfect.

With this new found lightness, he easily starts drawing again, without worrying overly about the outcome.He rejoices in the very act of drawing - his love ! We get a glimpse of his ish-drawings through the lovely illustrations in the book.

This book is one of Sooraj's top favourites ! The reasons being- the sentences are few and very simple,illustrations are lovely and funny at the same time. For example When the author says "Ramon loved to draw anywhere", it shows a picture of Ramon in the rest room with his sketch pad! When I ask Sooraj to name the ish-drawings, he starts off - Tree ish, house ish
and then he will say chappathi-ish for a drawing which the author has mentioned as "afternoon ish" !!! I do not correct him. Children are so imaginative at times, that it really amazes me !!

I too love this book for the same reasons as mentioned above. Additionally I noticed that this book had a significant impact on our son Sooraj when we started reading it a few months back. Sooraj is the kind of child who likes to get all his drawings and alphabets proper and perfect. When things do not turn out so good, he easily gets upset. On numerous occassions, we have told him that it was okay if the colours smudged out of the drawings or if the alphabets were slightly wobbly and it was still good. But he would not be convinced and look crest fallen for quite some time. Now this book has started getting the point across to him !! So now when he writes his alphabets and suddenly becomes anxious that one of the "G"s has not come out perfect, I tell him "Well.... it does look G -ish" and then he grins and continues :-). A marked improvement I would say :-).

The book also shows how ridiculing or discouragement, has a profound impact on children. At the same time when someone thinks the world of a child's talent and skills, their self esteem and self confidence simply sky-rocket!

I am sure this book would be something which you and your child will enjoy!


Tharini said...

wow. What a concept for a book! There must have been some growing pains in it for the author. How else could have something so personal come out in such a manner!

What struck me most was this one thing : that after that 'ish' inciden, Ramon drew, without being attached to the result, that he drew for the LOVE of drawing. I think its a huge lesson in life for us too.

And from a child's perspective...its wonderful how it impacted Sooraj in such a positive way and helped him to loosen his standards for himself. Wonderful. Thanks Ranjani for this precious find! You and Sathish always come up with such unique titles and subjects.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tharini for your nice words ! Yes in a simple way, the author has managed to capture our hearts ! Now that you mention about the author's personal experience, on the last page the author beautifully writes "Dedicated to Doug Kornfeld, my art teacher, who dared me to draw for myself and find my voice".

Praba Ram said...

Neat. Thanks for introducing Peter Reynolds to our readers! He has written some wonderful books for children. Loved reading your review. You've captured everything so beautifully...

We've read this book along with The Dot. The concepts the author addresses and the characters he creates are very unique.. Vashti and Ramon have left quite an impression on Kirthana's mind as well.

Thanks, Ranjani!

Meera Sriram said...

Loved it Ranjani! I loved the title, the part where his sister has all his drawings and also found a way to convincingly pat my daughter's attempts with her crayon. Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

Great review, and I'm tempted to get the book for my younger son who feels crushed when his big brother criticizes him.

Thanks for sharing Sooraj's reactions.

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