Do you remember? I suppose you do not. May I refresh your memory? A Little bit. Remember the time we chatted? Of Books, Dreams and Magic. Youth got the better of us, didn’t it? We were young (and may be we still are) and thought we could do anything. I do not know what happened after we met. I still wonder why things happened the way they did. It was raining. I remember us getting wet. You entering a pet store in Bandra. The rain lashing it’s beauty. We were soaked and the umbrella did not help. Do you remember? You came from the Twin Cities only to meet me or so I would like it to be and then we disappeared. We grew-up I think.
There are very few books that come along and change your life. You do not know in what way, but after reading them you are not the same and you can feel it so strongly that it takes your breath away. This happened to me when I read the most astonishing and enchanting picture book I have in a very long time. French Canadian graphic designer and illustrator Marianne Dubuc gives us this little piece of joy and ecstasy called, “The Lion and the Bird”. I had a problem procuring my copy since it is not easily available in India, but when I did receive it, I knew that I would love and cherish it forever.
As the title suggests, the book is about a lion and a bird. That is what it is. A lion finds a wounded bird one autumn day and his life changes in so many ways. He takes the bird in, heals it, and throughout autumn and winter the bird stays with the lion. They build a beautiful friendship and bond, which must come to an end because the bird will soon heal and fly and the lion will be left alone, as he was before the bird came into his life.
“The Lion and the Bird” is an ode to childhood and in so many ways an ode to adulthood as well. We all need to learn so many lessons as we go along – that of empathy, of being selfless sometimes, of understanding another’s sorrow and pain, and what life is truly about.
Marianne’s illustrations and use of space are breathtaking. The loneliness of the lion is depicted tenderly as he shrinks after the bird’s departure. The use of space is marvelously done and with great minimalistic effort.
This book is so appropriate for both adults and children. The eloquent pictures and story (almost wordless) go hand in hand and the words just become unnecessary. This is this beautiful rhythm to the book and though it is short, it just stays with you forever.
Initially I was reluctant to read, “The Tusk that Did the Damage” by Tania James. I have been a great fan of her short-story collection, “Aerogrammes” but somehow this one did not strike a chord with the plot glance. I don’t know. Maybe it was the fact that one of the narrators is an elephant or maybe that I was not ready to read a book about poachers and the wildlife situation in the country. Having said that, I picked it up one day because it was right there, staring at me and I am glad I read it.
Yes, the book is about an elephant, a poacher, a film-maker and a vet. But it is so much more than that. There is this element of humanity that is ever-present and it is there on almost every page and then you are made to wonder if animals have that gene in them or not? That of compassion or is it dead because of humans? The narrative is very strong – alternating between the voice of the elephant, the poacher, the film-maker and the vet is present in the film-maker’s parts.
The writing is very strong. Tania James has done her research to the tee and one can’t help but imagine each and every sentence that she carefully lays out for the reader. I know I am not talking much about the plot and that is only because I would rather you read the book and discover it for yourself.
“The Tusk that Did the Damage” is about all of us in it together – animals and humans and how the roles interchange most times without us realizing. I would recommend this book to everyone only because of what is written and not to forget the wondrous style of writing. A sure shot read this summer.
Title: Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe
Author: Yumi Sakugawa
Publisher: Adams Media
Genre: Spiritual, Self-Help
Source: Personal Copy
Becoming one with the universe? Getting signs from way up above? To completely and totally understand who you are and how you are connected to the universe is not an easy task. Maybe it is not that difficult either. I guess we just have to find ways to connect with the universe and become one with it. I know it sounds very superfluous but it is not. We just fail to see so many signs. We fail to listen to what our instincts tell us. Is that not a part of the universe? Don’t we need to see and listen to all of that?
“Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe” by Yumi Sakugawa is an illustrated guide like none other that I have come across. It is beautifully done and speaks to every reader. There are nine metaphysical lessons in this one and even if you aren’t a believer, I suggest you read this to help you open your mind and heart.
I don’t even know what prompted me to buy this book but I do know that after reading it, I just felt good about being who I am and what it takes to be who you are. It is about connecting with the world around you and with the world within you. I know it sounds mighty preachy but the good is far from that. It is a very quick read but I guarantee that you will come back to it because of the way it is illustrated and what it teaches each one of us.
Title: Squiggle Takes a Walk : All about Punctuation
Author: Natasha Sharma
Publisher: Penguin Books, Zubaan Books
Genre: Children’s Book, Knowledge and Learning
Source: Personal Copy
Squiggle wants to belong. Squiggle does not know where she fits in. She is confused. So she decides to find herself in the pages of a notebook and discovers the world of punctuation, until she finds someone her own kind. That is the plot of “Squiggle Takes a Walk” by Natasha Sharma – a delightful tale of Squiggle and her introduction to punctuation.
I wish we had such books while we were growing up. A book that would talk to us about punctuation and the English language without being a bore like those Wren and Martin books. Natasha Sharma makes punctuation fun through the story of Squiggle and also the easy to understand concepts for children, not to forget the activities at the end of the book. The format of the book is delightful, as it is in the form of a notebook, which will only generate more excitement among kids.
“Squiggle Takes a Walk” is the kind of book that can be read by children in less than half an hour but stays in the memory and the punctuation uses and points stick. Natasha Sharma has also with this book reached out to an adult who always had a problem with punctuation and still does. I plan to change that soon enough. Read it and so will you.