Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sister, Sister....

Author : Roopa Pai
Illustrated By : Greystroke
Published By : Pratham Books
Age Group : 4-8 years

A set of 4 books, subtitled as "Fun Conversations about Everyday Science", which I came across by chance while browsing the shelves in Pratham Books office cum sales center.

When we go out on our after-dinner walks (sometimes), my daughter likes pointing out - "Mama, see the moon is walking with us" , and then my son asks,"Why is the moon not staying at one place, how can it be moving with every person who is walking?" These questions amuse me. I think all children have these basic questions in their minds and try to find the logical answers which their innocent minds best understand.

In these books, an inquisitive little boy asks his elder sister many questions and the sister encourages him to think first what could be the reason of these things happening a certain way? He tries to think of all possible reasons from his understanding of the world, which is mainly based on the stories he must have heard from here and there.

Sister, Sister Why Is The Sky So Blue? The little brother thinks that one old lady lives on the sky and washes her big blue saree everyday and then spreads it over the sky and puts the cloud stones on top so that the wind does not carry it away(I specifically liked the explanation of clouds on the sky as stones). Or is it a sea - upside down, but how is the water held up in an upside down position? You will have to read it to find the amazing explanation!

Sister, Sister Where Does Thunder Come From? He thinks that the old lady living on the sky does not allow the children of her children to play, so they grumble. But later they start the game of chaupad, which they spread across the whole sky. The clapping of happy children and the rolling of giant dice make all the sounds of thundering. If not this, then angry roaring of Kumbhakarana, whose sleep got disturbed, must be the reason behind the thundering sound or may be the fancy bikers' are responsible for the thunder. But what are these fancy biker's doing high up there?

Sister, Sister Where Does The Sun Go At Night? His imagination makes him see the similarity between his father and the sun. Probably the big sun gets tired by the end of the day as all fathers do and goes to bed where his wife covers him with a heavy stars studded blanket so that his snoring doesn't disturb anybody. (My children think a blanket with these specifications might do the trick to keep their father's snoring a little less audible too.) But if this is not the correct reason then maybe the sun slides down in the ocean, but what will the sun do under the sea?

Sister, Sister Why Don't Things Fall Up? May be the things used to go up earlier but then the old lady in the sky got tired of cleaning the mess up every single day and because of her curse on earth, now everything lands right back on earth. Or could it be that there is a greedy monster in the earth who keeps sucking everything up? May be the delicious laddoos that their mother makes also vanish mysteriously to satisfy the greed of this monster under the earth!

After he has explored all possible flights of his imagination, his sister does tell him whatever she has read in the books, trying to explain the physical phenomena - scattering of light, rotation of earth, gravity and thundering, in a simple way.

While reading these books to my children, I found it a good time to ask them what do they think. A great opportunity to peep into their minds, and to accompany them in their pursuit of finding answers to such queries. While teaching them the routine stuff, we tend to overlook the significance of free flow of thoughts, not bothering about the correctness of the same that much.

On the last page there are simple experiments explained to show the phenomena.

Illustrations are beautiful with bright colours and even the manner in which the text is printed on the pictures is interesting and blends with the pictures very well. Some pages are simply medley of vibrant colours put together by bold strokes of brush - a delight to the eyes.
{Images Courtesy : Pratham Books}


ranjani.sathish said...

Vibha, we have this set of books too and I agree it is a wonderful way to introduce the basic scientific concepts to children. In fact I think we should recommend these books to our children's schools, as supplements when the children learn them in Science.

What I really liked in these books are two things :

1) The space given to a child's imagination. Even after the brother's creative answers, the sister does not dismiss him saying that it is is not correct. She says "You may be right, but in the books that I have read....". It does not dampen the creative enthusiasm.

2)When the sister explains the facts, she finally says that in the books that she has read this is what is told. It is not an emphatic 'this is it' ! Considering that scientific explanations have changed over centuries, I thought this was a good way to put it across !

Vibha said...

Yes, Ranjani, I think many of the Pratham books have a lot to offer to young children besides just teaching them something.

I agree, including such books as supplements while teaching them regular stuff is a great idea.

I consider such wonderfully written simple books as sweet speedbreakers in otherwise accelerated lives of ours and our children's.

Choxbox said...

Great Pick Vibha. Agree with you, and would say that this set of books is very different from the usual simple science books for little ones - Ranjani said it all.

These books were gifted to us about three years back and have been enjoyed not just by us but also appealed big time to my help's children.

Poppy said...

Love the idea of this series!

Poppins said...

We went and picked up the Why don't things fall up from the library Vibha. I just read it once last night and am regretting introducing it at night. She didn't want to sleep - so excited she was by GRA-VITY!

She kept saying " The Earth is BIG and it said - Come to me, Come to me' and that's why all the things fall down to the Earth.

A lovely way to introduce a difficult concept to such a young child ! Sure beats learning it at 9.81, a meaningless figure to me in those days!

Thanks Vibha for bringing us this pick.

Greystroke (aka Shyam Madhavan Sarada) said...

Great to see some rare feedback on my work :-)


ranjani.sathish said...

greystroke, thanks for dropping by. Your "Wannabe Studios" is very interesting.

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