Sunday, January 25, 2015

Little Fingers

Little Fingers By Sheila Dhir
Illustrations Mugdha Sethi

Tulika 2010, reprint 2013

Reviewed by Rachna Dhir

While my own children are now teenagers, reading books with pages running into many hundreds, I am always on the lookout for age and context appropriate picture books for younger children to give as gifts. There is something to be said about gifting books. They bring so much joy to the receiver that the giver has the obligation of selecting carefully, which perhaps is an honour that needs to be taken seriously. And if the giving adult knows the receiving child well - nothing short of magic can be felt by both to make their bond special over carefully selected books!

One such favourite book that I have gifted to quite a few children I know is Little Fingers. Written in prose, this twelve page picture book by Tulika is perfect to be read aloud to the youngest child. The illustrations on each page are as simple as the words and just as captivating.

Rather than use the stereotypical things we do with our fingers and hands, the author has thought of some rather unique use of each finger that is so well supported by the illustrations.

According to the back jacket, "each finger has its own personality, and when ten little fingers come together, they make things happen."

Hawaii based Sheila Dhir is a well known writer for Indian children's books. She wrote and illustrated the path breaking book "Why are you afraid to hold my hand?" also published by Tulika, that is popular not just with individuals but also used by institutions for sensitivity training vis a vis differently abled members of our society, especially children.

This review would be incomplete without a special mention about the illustrations. From the choice of shade to paint the hands in to the child like feel of each finished frame, Mugdha Sethi has set the tone for how illustrations for Indian children's books need not always be "inspired" or "guided" by (to be politically correct) their western counterparts. Indian children not only have brown skin tone, but they also play the tabla as well as cat's cradle, just as they say both namaste and bye bye with equal ease!

For beginning readers, this book is perfect with plenty of rhyming sight words and no complicated sentences. This feature is bound to make it a hit with the teaching community! It can be adapted to a simple skit, as preschools and Montessori houses of children are always looking for such material. It is sure to engage children who are bound to get excited when they see activities they are so familiar with (working with finger paints and beads, for example).

All in all - a delightful book in every aspect!

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