I discovered Ms.Ravishankar only four months back. When I first saw the books authored by her on Tara catalog, I did confuse her with Anoushka Shankar, the sitar player. Live mint sorted me out proper. I started reading more about her and the title Dr.Seuss of India had me riveted.
The first Ravishankar book we read at home, Rumor - published by Karadi, charmed the pants off us and left us wanting for more. Luckily we found a couple of her books in our library.
Title: Elephants Never Forget!
Author: Anushka Ravishankar
Illustrations: Christiane Pieper
Publishers: Houghton Mifflin Company
Age: 3 - 6.
The story is simple. An elephant calf gets separated from its mother after a storm and is adopted by a heard of buffaloes. He grows up as a member of the buffalo herd. When he encounters an elephant herd few years later, will he choose to go with the elephants or will he remain with the buffaloes?
The simple story has been made interesting by the typical Anushaka Ravishankar’s style of story telling.
“He needed some water
To wash himself clean.
The buffaloes looked so calm, so serene.
The water was lovely, cool and green.”
What endeared this book to me was not just the rhyming verse. To me the elephant growing up with animals totally different from him, forming his identity and in the end deciding his zone of comfort was very similar to immigrant children forming identity.
Title: To market! To market!
Suthor: Anushka Ravishankar.
Illustrations: Emanuele Sanziani.
Publishers: Tara Publishers
I still remember my tri-weekly trips to the vegetable market with my dad. A buzzing Indian bazaar is not exactly a theme park, yet I found it very entertaining. Walking along the aisles touching the fresh vegetables, observing the art of bargaining, being mesmerized by the art of peddling(Doesn’t even the mundane tea and coffee has a magic to it when the peddler calls out in his deep voice - teeeeeee-kaapi-kaapi-kaapi-kaapi-kaapeeeee ?), the smell of fresh flowers and a quick pass by darshan at the local road side temple......
The essence of my experience is captured effectively in rhyme and in illustration in To Market! To Market! It brings out powerful nostalgia. It brings fleeting images of a five year old me walking to the old Saidapet market holding my dad’s fingers. I remembered this one particular trip where I was busy looking around and reached out for my father’s fingers and he shook me off rather rudely which made me look up at his face only to realize that in my trance, I had lost my dad and was trying to go home with a stranger! It brings out the child in me.
Contrary to her claim to fame as India’s ‘nonsense verse’ writer, Ms.Ravishankar personally made a lot of sense to me.