Written by Sujatha Padmanabhan
Illustrated by Madhuvanti Anantharajan
Designed by Manisha Sheth Gutman
Ages 4-8 years
As part of this project that I volunteered for recently, I worked with a bunch of kids that included two physically handicapped children. The other children not only happily accommodated them but also came up with creative ways to make them part of the group. Their spontaneous compassion can be best described as 'smile-creating' and 'spirit-lifting'.
So Chuskit Goes to School! struck a chord. It is another gem from Pratham Books and has been inspired by true instances in the villages of Ladakh. Apart from the heart-warming storyline, it tells you many things about life in Ladakh in beautiful words and illustrations.
The book revolves around nine-year old Chuskit who has legs which do not work. She is confined to a wheel-chair and observes everything from her window all day. The one thing she longs to do is to go to school and learn things like her brother. The biggest hurdle in her path is well, the uneven and difficult path itself. It is strewn with rocks, involves crossing a stream and is as wheel-chair-unfriendly as it can get.
One day Abdul, a boy who lives in their village, comes to her house on an errand. While talking to Chuskit he realizes how desperately she wants to go to school like other children - to study, make friends, play games and even write exams! Her grandfather dismisses her thoughts as impossible daydreams and tells her to just learn whatever she can at home.
Abdul approaches his Headmaster the next day with a plan. The Headmaster is sold on the idea and also convinces the other teachers. They rope in all the children at the school and thus starts a project that they all participate in with great excitement and enthusiasm.
What is the plan?! Read it and find out! All I will tell you is this - Chuskit does go to school finally!