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These New Kids’ Books Talk About Concealed Realities

  • IWB Post
  •  July 21, 2015

Books are perhaps the only medium to portray the callous realities of life in a subtle and patronizing way. Ask me why, and I’ll tell you this…

The characters and plots crafted deftly in storybooks have a way of leaving fertile impressions in the minds of the readers, which when mingled with their conscience and perceptions; make them more enlightened and receptive.

And this is no exception for the little humans: children.

“Just because you are a child, it doesn’t mean that you are exempt from the adult world,” says Mathangi Subramanian, a writer, educator, and activist, who firmly believes in the power of stories to change the world.

In her latest children’s book, Dear Mrs. Naidu, a 12-year old government-school-going girl, named Sarojini, plays the protagonist. Sarojini’s life meets an upheaval as her best friend Amir moves out of the government school to a posh private school. She finds out about the Right to Education law and tries to get a free seat at her best friend’s new school. But as we all know, life is not a bed of roses. And laws are well, made to be broken. This new school demands bribe from Sarojini’s mother, and poor Sarojini foresees her dear friendship falling apart. She sets down to write letters to the long-gone freedom fighter, who happens to have the same name as her, Sarojini Naidu. And that isn’t just it, she draws inspiration from her name-clone’s life and goes on to challenge the current system.

Through the book, Subramanian tries to shed light on unacknowledged tragedies of metropolitan lives which are dexterously concealed from the young adults. The story, besides being enlightening, is also inspirational.

Another one in the potpourri of children’s books is Ranjit Lal’s Faces in the Water. The book literally talks about faces which appear in the well situated in the farmhouse of a family which boasts about having only sons and no daughters. The faces are actually the ghosts of the family’s dark past, which holds the unspeakable secret of drowning seven female children.

Crafted in a funny yet sensitive manner, this book poignantly reflects upon the society’s insatiable hunger for sons, and the discarding attitude towards daughters. Lal’s book has bagged the 2010 Crossword – Vodafone Award for Children’s Fiction and the Ladli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity 2011 – 2012.

Speaking of these books, makes me want to write one of my own! Never undermine the power of imagination laid down on brittle paperbacks. They have the power to spin your world around.

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