Tuesday, August 24, 2010

At least a Fish

Author: Anushka Ravishankar

Illustrations: Shilo Shiv Suleman

Publisher: Scholastic India

Age group: 6- 10 years

What do you do when you want to adopt a puppy but your parents say no? Do you

a) get fish instead - three boring fish that can't wag their tails, lick your face, or be cuddled?

b) get three boring fish, then try to liven up their lives with exotic names and new food, or

c) enlist the help of a motley crew of friends to try and get that puppy anyway?

Well - all three, if you are Ana, star of this hilarious book by Anushka Ravishankar, the first of a series of Ana and Zain books. For Ananya Bopanna (Ana for short) has her heart set on a puppy, which leads her to respond to an ad in a newspaper, even as she struggles to bond with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle ( that's right, the fish).

Meanwhile, across town, Dr Nirmala Joshi worries about finding a home for Buddhu, an adorable puppy with a strange predicament - he thinks he's a fish!

A serendipitous meeting in a bookshop does bring Ana and Buddhu together, but not before

a) the famed Tragedy Queen of P. K. Medical has unleashed her histrionics on an unsuspecting salesclerk,

b) Ana's friend Zain has survived being nearly drowned - first in filthy pond water and then in his sister's awful perfume, and

c) Beena- one half of the annoying twin duo Meena-Beena -has a close encounter with the mysterious dragonof the swimming pool!

Don't you just love a book teeming with distinctive characters, each one begging to be the star of a series all their own? This certainly is one - the Imp and I finished this book in one sitting, but have returned to it several times since. The author has been a big favourite at home, ever since we first laid our hungry eyes on a copy of 'The Fivetongued Firefanged Folkadotted Dragon Snake'. With 'Atleast..' she does it again - deftly capturing a child's view of her universe with all of its attendant anxieties and pleasures.

Also worth mentioning are the illustrations - trademark Shilo Suleman, with their quirky, saucer-eyed characters and layered collages.

Image courtesy: Scholastic India


starry eyed said...

Wordjunkie! Where have you been?! I just got this book as a gift for Divya for Raksha Bandhan. It's gorgeous! Loved the review.

Choxbox said...

What a treat - the author, the illustrator, the reviewer! Will look out for this one, thanks!

sandhya said...

Sounds wonderful. Will look out for this one- for my daughter who wants 'at least a pet', if there will be no sibling!

starry eyed said...

Chox, Sandhya: You can borrow from us :)

wordjunkie said...

Hi all.
Starry, I was shamefully AWOL, wasn't I?
Glad you liked the book.
Sandhya, Chox: I rarely find Scholastic books in shops in Mumbai, as they seem to retail almost exclusively through schools. They do have an online store now, and good old Flipkart stocks this book as well.

Vibha said...

A great review. An interesting story. Using flipkart right now.

ranjani.sathish said...

We have this book too..picked it up at the Scholastic book fair in the school! S has not yet read this book... but yes the book looks very appealing indeed.

Sheela said...

Thanks, Wordjunkie... Oh, I am sure my Ana (Anamitra) would love a book with her name in it... and living with a cat who thinks he is human (and a goldfish who thought he was a whale), I have a feeling this might be well-received in our household :)

Choxbox said...

Got it yesterday - was a big hit with both the kids. Thanks WJ!

Vibha said...

Recd. the book today. My daughter finished it in one sitting.

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