Monday, May 10, 2010

The Helping Hand

Title : The Helping Hand
Author : Kamakshi Balasubramanian
Illustrator : Kuntal Dey
Publisher : Spark-India

I always admire the books which sensitively talk about the special children and how they look at the world or how the regular children feel about them. Sometimes people do react in very strange ways when they come across a differently abled person. There may not be any negative feeling but just not being comfortable with the uniqueness creates a big chasm when interacting in such situations so I keep looking for the books which aid in instilling compassion in kids from very early age.

A very tenderly told story of a girl Komal and her brother Tarun. The story starts with Komal anxiously waiting for the arrival of her baby sibling and Tarun is the answer of everybody's prayers. Komal is thrilled to have a younger brother to whom she sings rhymes, teaches counting and wants him to join her school. But gradually she understands that Tarun is not like other regular kids and needs help in almost everything - walking, eating, getting cleaned. He starts going to a special school. With the loving support of the family, both siblings learn different things at different pace as per their abilities. Komal grows up to be a veterinarian doctor and finds a gentle and kind helper in her younger brother and they both form a team together to heal the animals.

There are a lot of things that I appreciated about the book - the subtle way in which the uniqueness of Tarun is explained and how each individual is unique and learns at different pace. It is so very important to recognize these differences of abilities and preferences and not let one's path dictate that of others. Respecting the individuality and sensitively supporting the children can help make every child bloom to his/her maximum potential and spread fragrance in the world.

This book reminded us of one of the Tulika books that we read last year - 'Why are you afraid to hold my hand?' A beautifully written book which brings the perspective of physically challenged child. An attempt to convey to other people how it feels to always receive sympathy and pity when it is not needed and when all that is required is to be treated like the rest of them.
{Images courtesy : Infibeam and Tulika}


sandhya said...

You are so right. One has a feeling of discomfort when one encounters anyone who is differently abled. I do too. When I tried to analyse this, I realised that it is more because I was afraid of hurting the other person's sensibilities, of not knowing what I should or should not do so that I don't behave in a patronising way.
One of my daughter's close friend has a differently abled sibling and we come in close contact with them regularly. It is not so difficult after interacting with them so regularly. But my daughter A had a lot of questions once she was old enough to perceive the difference, and the Tulika book you have listed helped a lot with that. Will look out for "The Helping Hand". Thank you so much for introducing it.
Sorry for the long comment. Seem to be specialising in them.

starry eyed said...

Yes, 'Why are you afraid to hold my hand' is a very sensitive book, and this one by NBT sounds like a good one too.

I agree about that awkwardness around people who are different...I think in Indian society, being different has so many taboos and disadvantages, that they avoid public places because of the stares and disgust they encounter. One woman who has adopted a young girl with a severe genetic skin condition related how another girl came and spat on the child in a SPAR supermarket saying "you should not be in this shop". Its so upsetting.

ranjani.sathish said...

Chox, thanks for bringing this book here.I would like to get hold of this book to read to the kids. is very important that as parents we sensitise the children to the differently abled.

Recently for a function in my house, we knew that a relative of ours would be coming with their autistic son. So I had explained to Sooraj the prior day, about how the child (no longer a child but a 26 year old),was different and why he behaved the way he did. I think once the children are made aware, they are able to empathise and be sensitive to others feelings too.

Starry, it is very upsetting to hear the incident you related. I am interested in knowing how the mom of this other girl reacted.

Vibha said...

Sandhya ~ Your comments are very valuable and always welcome here.
I feel many times parents are also at loss of right words and in such situations, books are the best saviour and publishers like NBT, CBT, Tulika, Pratham are doing a wonderful job handling these issues and bringing them for little children very sensitively.

Starry eyed ~ It is really very unnerving and I would also like to know how the mother handles such situations.

Ranjani ~ Thanks. That is what we need to do, encourage our kids to interact with anybody and everybody without letting the mental or physical differences come in the way.

Anonymous said...

oops Vibha ...somehow misunderstood that the post was by chox apologies :-) (NBT and Chox kind of go together in my mind !!)


Vibha said...

No probelm Ranjani. In Chd I went to a bookstore and found some really nice NBT, CBT and Tulika books which I haven't seen in Bangalore. Bought a bag full of books like a very greedy person.

sathish said...

vibha, we were discussing the other day at home - there are some great gems to be found in CBT and NBT publications. Aren't they?

utbtkids said...

Vibha, great pick. Indian society has trouble dealing with differently abled children and adults. But the very fact that these kind of books are being published is a good stepping stone.

One difference between adults and children when encountering differently abled individuals, children notice that something is different and react explicitly. But they are also very quick n welcoming the individual in to their lives. But adults pretend that there is nothing different and have a hard time accepting people different from us.

Vibha said...

Sathish ~ Absolutely.

utbt ~ You have put it very nicely. The pretence creates more distance.

SoulSpace said...

its wonderful to have books convey such sensitivity
thanks for highlighting so well

Kamakshi said...

I feel honoured to find my work (The helping Hand) thus discussed. Writing the story (800 words was my limit) was an enormously difficult task because I wished to describe with empathy the lives of everyone in the family with a special child. I find the illustrations absolutely outstanding.
By the way, this title is published by Spark-India, not NBT.

Vibha said...

Thanks for commenting on ST.The book was simply wonderful. I am sorry about the mistake in the name of the publisher and thanks for pointing it out. I will correct the same immediately.

starry eyed said...

Vibha, just to let you know we got the book and read it, my daughter absolutely loved it, esp the ending.

To answer the q's about how the mother I mentioned in my previous comment handles it, I don't know. But she takes her daughter everywhere regardless of the insensitivity.

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