Monday, August 06, 2012

366 words in Kolkata

Author: Vaishali Basu
Illustrator: Devaki Neogi Kiran
Concept: Preeti Vyas
Publisher: FunOKplease

As a travel enthusiast, this series caught my interest and eye. I have not seen any in this genre for Indian cities, targeted at children.

I was inducted into the series through 366 words in Bengaluru. Though I had been a resident for over a year, I found it a useful way to introduce and discover new things about the city to my six year old.

The series maintains a consistent look and feel through the four books. The yellow and black zebra line border, the size of the book and the title fonts, certainly ensure that you notice the book.

After a child friendly map , there is a text-heavy, two-page introduction to the city which my child wanted to skip. Older children and adult readers will find it interesting/ informative and can help the younger child through it.

The book really gets going from there on. It takes you on a ride in and around the city.

There is a full page dedicated to each landmark / theme ranging from the modern to the traditional, capturing the culture- from food to transport and basically anything that adds distinct character to the city.

The text on each location/ subject is crisp and reader friendly. Having visited Kolkata a few times, I felt the book was informative and comprehensive. I smiled as the author doffed her cap at gender equality, when the child says that her father cooks a special dish on Sundays.

The art work of the locations have been done painstakingly and there are small quirky touches in many a corner.  Some aspects of the picture are left unexplained to encourage further investigation by the child. eg. Swami Vivekananda's visual on the Metro page.

There is a sometimes a bit too much going on, on some pages, since individual words also need highlighting along with their pictures. True to the book's claim, the words target a mix of ages and are of different levels of familiarity across the 3- 8 age group.

The book ends with a page full of suggested excursions close to the city. Pretty exhaustive is again the feeling one gets.

As expected, the authors of the series are either natives of the city or have spent  a large portion of their life there. This is true of the illustrators as well. Thus there is a lot of love for the city, that gets reflected in the work.

Another charming titbit is that the actual names of the kids of all the authors and illustrators are part of all the books.

Since the content and concept are really fresh in the Indian context, I found the rendering of the two kids (who are the narrators) a bit uninspired. But this does not detract from the book.

The book will appeal to any curious child and he can use it for reference every now and then and discover something new each time - about the city he lives in or the one he plans to visit soon.


ranjani.sathish said...

What a lovely find Art !! Thanks for bringing it to ST. I am so curious to read the Blore book. Where did you get these books ?

Artnavy said...

Ranjani- got it at Crossword airport branch

Choxbox said...

Nice review Art!

R, I have a copy of the Bangalore book, bought it at a Strand sale. Will ping you next time I spot one, and pick it up if you want.

Artnavy said...

Ranjani- Strand sale is ON near Wesley church

ranjani.sathish said...

Thanks Arthi and Chox..dunno if I can make it to Strand this time. I notice that it is available on flipkart...may be will order there.

Sheela said...

Sounds wonderful, Art, I am curious to read the ones about Madras, er, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Artnavy said...

I really think Chennai, Hbad and Pune, Abad shld come in soon

The publisher could mkt it alongside travel desks across india

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