Minu and her Hair
Written and Illustrated by : Gayathri Bashi
“Why me?” Do you recall the number of times you’ve said that, when faced with a seemingly impossible hurdle? Especially when that hurdle was some inconvenient physical trait that you could do nothing about, but that set you apart from the rest of your family?
The eponymous Minu’s hurdle is particularly worrisome – her hair. And what hair it is -not just untidy, or disheveled but positively wild! For in a family of neat-haired (and neatly hairless) folk, Minu’s mass of swirling curls seems almost rebellious. It defies taming, confounds her family’s attempts with comb, scissors and oil, treats gravity with disdain, takes on the strangest of shapes and manages to drive our poor little heroine utterly crazy. “Why me?” she whines… until her grandfather opens her eyes to how special her hair really is.
In Minu.. author and illustrator Gayathri Bashi gives us a sweet, simple tale about embracing the little quirks that set one apart, and the powers of the imagination in revisiting one's problems. For Minu's grandfather doesn't underplay the chaos that is her hair - he shows her why it is a blessing.
I liked the economy and whimsy of the illustrations , and the inventive use of mixed media collage (spare art, embellished with about a ton of black thread!) that turns Minu’s hair into a tactile, three dimensional creature that had me rubbing my hands over each page. And rather fittingly for a book about changing one’s perspective, Minu.. make some clever use of it as well - I particularly liked the spreads where a furious Minu seems to dwarf her hapless parents, and the lovely, worldess page where she and her grandfather (and, it must be said, her hair) share a quiet moment together.
On a personal note, the book struck a chord with me – I am as wild haired as they come, and my childhood is peppered with many a misadventure involving scissors and combs. And it wasn’t just the hair, was it – there was the chubbiness, and the shortness and the two left feet… an endless list. As a parent, I see a new generation struggling with all the same issues, made worse by the effect of media and its obsession with unrealistic standards for beauty and success. Minu and her head of hair would make a good starting point to talk to young readers about body image issues and the importance of accepting oneself .
Thanks to Tulika Books for a review copy of the book.
Image courtesy: Tulika Books