Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Curious Sameer series

Written by Nandini Nayar
 Illustrated by Francesco Manetti
 Karadi Tales
 Ages 3 to 6

I’ve always enjoyed Nandini Nayar’s picture books - spare text, minimal characters, and always some simple prop or idea that sends those characters  (and us readers)  off on imaginative journeys.  The Curious Sameer books , a series starring a little boy and his wise mother, follow much the same trajectory. 

What Will I be? begins with our little hero and his Amma  playing hide and seek. Petulant at being found almost at once, Sameer declares he will run away, become a train driver and travel somewhere his mother will never  find him. But I will, she assures him, and explains how.  Then I will be a pilot, says Sameer, and  never be found among the clouds. Think again, says Amma,  and explains how she will track him down . Again and again , Sameer  thinks of something new to be, that will take him far away from her.  And again and again, Amma cleverly proves she will still know where he is -  until an unexpected twist  that has our little hero reconsider his lofty  plans. The book  charmingly explores the world through Sameer’s eyes, as he flits from puffy clouds to  candy mountains to subterranean mines.   As a parent,  I couldn’t help chuckling at Sameer’s increasingly ambitious plans to prove his independence, only to be gently reeled in by his Amma  every single time.  

What  Could it Be  is all about the power of creativity. The book has Sameer trying to solve a mystery – what lies inside the blue package waiting  for him when he gets home from school? Amma knows, of course, but  keeps Sameer guessing, only willing to tell him what the gift isn’t. Is it a doll, he asks, which will be my friend? A friend, yes, says Amma, but not a doll. A kite, perhaps, asks Sameer, that will make me soar high? You will soar high, says Amma, but it is no kite.  What follows is a wild flight of fancy, much like What Will I be?, as Sameer  imagines what the gift could be, while Amma’s answers  gets increasingly more profound and mysterious.  I especially enjoyed the pacing of the book – it builds up  the suspense neatly, has us pause with Sameer as we consider all of  Amma’s cryptic clues, before presenting us with the answer in a colourful flourish.

Francesco Manetti’s art captures  the charm of Nandini Nayar’s little stories – his illustrations are playful, beautifully textured and  bring Sameer’s imaginary worlds  to life . Each colourful spread is a delight to  the eye, full of interesting details and humorous depictions of Amma’s relentless pursuit of little Sameer.  Cities of blocks with wavy clothes lines,  faraway moon colonies,   candy mountain peaks – and my favourite image, Amma flying towards mountaineer Sameer on a folded newspaper  ‘plane!   My one regret is that Sameer didn’t consider a career as a deep sea diver – I would have loved to see Fransesco’s  depiction of his underwater capers!

An electronic version of this book was sent to me by the publisher for review; all views expressed, however, are my own.


Nandini Nayar said...

Thank you, Wordjunkie, for a wonderful review!
Nandini Nayar

saradha said...

The first one looks very similar to Runaway bunny. Where the bunny runs away and the mother assures that he will be found.

247earn said...

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