Guest reviewer, Rachna Dhir's brings us a review of Ari by Vaishali Shroff.
"Shy" and "coward" are labels used very lightly in Indian culture for children of all ages. I sometimes feel that political correctness and accepting that "being introvert is okay" are concepts that must be a compulsory part of both parent training and teacher training!
Written by Vaishali Shroff, the new book Ari by Tulika publishers breaks many a stereotype with its theme. The author has done a great job of depicting how the child gets over his own limitations with a little help from his mother, who knows him well.
To quote from the jacket "When the teacher announces that the class will stage The Lion and the Mouse, Ari is thrilled. He knows he'll make a wonderful lion...Ari is neither noticed nor chosen". This is the sombre backdrop for the story and I choose to divulge no more.
The illustrations are by Kavita Singh Kale, who has written and illustrated two books for Tulika herself (My Facebook Friends and Avneet Aunty's Mobile) in addition to illustrating our own Arthi's Ranganna. According to the jacket, "the flat illustrative style with its strong kitschy palette .... captures the energy of ... Play-acting".
With bold illustrations and minimal text per page, the book is sure to touch many a heart. The dedication by the author, whose own son Arinjay is the inspiration for the story, is extremely compelling "For the Aris of the world who glow, and for those who see it".
We need more such books that deal with real issues faced by children on a daily basis. No child can or should be called naughty or serious, perhaps. There are times when the same child can choose one hat or another? And why not? Who does not want to have fun, every once in a while?