Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Regina's Big Mistake

Regina's big mistake by Marissa Moss

Every school goer, especially in the 4-8 age group, will be able to relate to the incident in this wonderful book by Marissa Moss, author and illustrator. Regina's big mistake, the title kindles interest - who is Regina, what was her mistake and why big?

The scene is an art class. Students are given stationery and asked to draw a jungle or a rain forest. Nervous, Regina draws a blank (pun unintended!). She sits there stumped, while her classmates are busy translating their ideas into art. The feeling of diffidence and the reluctance to try something, similar to what Regina goes through, is something that every child experiences at different junctures as part of school-going, be it art, writing or performing.

Regina tries to draw a flower, makes a geometric mistake and destroys her paper in frustration. That's definitely not the end of the story. She is given another blank paper. Another opportunity to start afresh but not enough optimism, especially considering the fact that her neighbor's papers are already blossoming with wonderful artwork of flora and fauna. With only a few minutes left, the pressure mounts.

Gathering a whole lot of courage, she makes a small start. Baby steps, a tree. A lion. Her mates blame her of plagiarism. But she silences them giving her own signature touches to the images. A thirsty lion, a lake for it, and some flowers - a perfect jungle. As a final touch, she attempts to draw a sun. But as fate would have it, she makes another mistake. A wobbly circle resulting in an imperfect sun. A colossal mistake in little Regina's world! But her impromtu creativity steps in. A moon, she calls it, without the slightest hesitation! She creates a backdrop of a beautiful night sky for her jungle. The uniqueness of her picture wins her teacher's heart.

Children often encounter such tight spots in their daily lives in school and at play. They often experience lack of confidence in expressing their creativity. Even a trivial situation can be a huge challenge for the small mind that is filled with apprehensions and fears. This incident not only unravels the trauma, but proceeds to tell us how important it is to try and create something out of what we have. It also imparts a valuable lesson that mistakes are OK, that mistakes can be fixed and that mistakes can lead to more creative discoveries.

The language is simple and the illustrations are casual and very friendly. The crayon creations are realistic and appealing. A good book for those early years at school.

The personal touch - my preschooler loves this book and is always rooting for Regina. You can often catch me alluding to the story when she is quick to give up on something. And this afternoon, she told me that when she tries an A and it ends up wobbly she is going to call it an M. "Close enough", I said!


Tharini said...

Meera! How well you understand the little mind, its fears and its apprehensions. I loved the easy flow to your review nd it was also very spellbinding as I was eager to discover what Regina did and how it all ended. How nailbiting that finish was, in just a small easy paragraph. I am placing a hold right now!!

sathish said...

meera, a nice story.. many times, ranjani and I have observed that sooraj gets upset if his drawing / colouring or any other activity does not look to his expectation - he gets angry and tears up the paper..

we try to convince him that it is ok to draw in any shape - books like this will help to pass the message I think..

ranjani.sathish said...

Meera, that was a great review. As Sathish has mentioned, it would be a valuable book to add to our collection ! There is the book "Ish" by Peter Reynolds which addresses a similar issue. I will soon be posting the review of that

Praba Ram said...

Nice pick! Ties very well with "Ish" - you've addressed a very important theme that is a day-to-day occurence in a preschooler's world! Will check it out! thanks!

Meera Sriram said...

Thanks guys! It motivates me to keep looking for books that deal with such issues for those early years. Glad you all liked it.

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