Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Six Spellmakers of Dorabji Street

The Six Spellmakers of Dorabji Street
Author- Shabnam Minwalla
Illustrator- Savbhu Kholi
Hachette India
Age- 10 plus

A typical Mumbai building, a bunch of eccentric residents, a new arrival, a tree hugger, a set of kids, a supportive mother/ aunt. From the chowkidar on a swivel chair to the odd job person, from the drying mani plant at someone's door to the flourishing almost magical garden, I relived my childhood in Mumbai as I read the story.

Like in any apartment, there is politics among the residents and issues range from what to name the building to servant maid rates and so on. The author keeps even these 'adult' situations entertaining for tweens- the likely readers.

Two almost menacing residents come together and decide to chop down a couple of bimbli trees in the compound. The six children are determined to save the trees at all costs and possibly their childhood as they know it- and the book is about their efforts to do so.

They motley bunch are lead by two spirited girls and a resourceful boy. Their escapades, the planning, the unlikely twists and coincidences that happen along the way will delight any reader.

The characters, both adults and kids, with their quirks are well etched and kids will surely want a sequel to the book.

The brand names and locations mentioned, make the book very real and set a context. The solutions the kids come up with are also pretty realistic. The beautifully established links/ parallels between fantasy/magic and reality will appeal to even the more cynical reader.

Moving on to the illustrations- they lend a helping hand to the story, especially the mug shots of the residents and that of the grand finale.

I asked the author- Shabnam if she had any anecdotes to share  and she said:
My building actually had two bimbli trees in the compound when we were growing up. And there was a bunch of us that spent many afternoons on those trees. Years later, when I was studying in the US, the building cut down those trees. My friends and I still feel bad about it. And talk about those trees whenever we meet.

And all that love and nostalgia has gone into the book- making it relevant, real and amusing.

The author's kids composed and put up a music video, which is in the facebook site of the book or can be viewed on Youtube here.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

This looks really interesting. I will have to try to find a copy, but it could be difficult.

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