Wednesday, August 06, 2014

A little cloud and a handful of continents

I'm making a cluster of these Katha titles because they're suitable for the same age group and are a simple lesson in environmental studies, although Little Cloud is neatly wrapped up in fiction.

Title: Little Cloud's Quest
Author: Stephen Aitken and Sylvia Sikundar
Publisher: Katha
Illustrator: Joyita Banerjee

One day Wind finds Little Cloud looking rather low and prescribes her a healthy dose of friendship. She carries her high up in the sky and introduces her to the Cirrus clouds. The wispy Cirrus clouds point out that she looks nothing like them, is too slow, and then they melt away.  She next finds the Cumulus clouds playing hide and seek and tries to join them. Unfortunately she is too small and the big clouds refuse to play with her.

She bursts into tears of loneliness and her teardrops bring a desert to life. The thirsty children find relief, plants burst into bloom and Little Cloud soon has a lot of friends.

This story is simple enough for a three year old to comprehend, but can also be used to teach older children the different types of clouds. A great add on to text books for both educators, as well as parents. Little cloud facts at the bottom of the page add to what the story illustrates about each type of cloud. 

Co-authors, Stephen Aitken and Sylvia Sikundar are both deeply interested and involved in matters of environment and wildlife. On his blog, Aitken, who has a studio in the Western Himalayas mentions - "The interplay of the mountains with the clouds that hover over them never fails to fascinate me. They suggest a seamless transition from form to formless, hint of an other-worldly existence and lift me from the mundane. I spent many childhood summers lying in fields on my back staring up at a floating stream of clouds." Which adds something to our understanding of what drew him to this topic. 

The illustrations by Joyita Banerjee are simple and bright, but unexceptional. The layout on the other hand, is interesting, with chunks of text laid out in blocks.

Title: The Case of the Runaway Continents
Author: Geeta Dharmarajan
Publisher: Katha
Illustrator: Joyita Banerjee

Neatly positioned as a mystery, The Case of the Runaway Continents raises geographical questions about the positions of the continents, leaving it to a child's enquiring mind to mull over.  Why does the bulge of Brazil fit into the hollow of West Africa? How did the remains of warm water coral reefs end up in the cold Northern Hemisphere. How do certain animals in South America and Africa share ancestors?

I love the way Dharmarajan points young readers in the right direction instead of just feeding them dry facts. It makes the book interactive, keeps their curiosity alive and makes it easier to retain information.

Carbon dating, continental drift, fault zones; a simple and interesting introduction to each of these concepts even while keeping the theme of a mystery alive. A great supplement to children already studying this in school or even for those who are just keenly curious.

Joyita Banerjee's illustrations are once again, bright, colourful and a great support to the text.

I was sent the books in exchange for an honest review.


Sheela said...

Both the books sound delightful! Thanks, TMM!

Obsessivemom said...

A query.. Where can I find these books? Are they available online? Or anywhere in Pune?

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