Published By: Tulika Books
Story and Illustrations: Junuka Deshpande
In a Sentence: A walk through the jungle at night.
What is it About: A brilliant bilingual book which uses minimal words and minimal colour to bring alive the essence of a dark night in forest-with its mysteries and erieness intact.
Form and language: The use of minimal words adds to way the child gets absorbed into the unknown. Also, the care with which the phrases are intelligently juxtaposed is noteworthy – ‘Mother and babies asleep’ where we see piglets snuggled into the mamma sow. And on the facing page, we have, ‘Upside down and awake,’ for a family of bats.
What makes it snuggly: The warmth and snug feeling, despite the eeriness associated with both a forest, and dark nights. I think it’s a particularly useful book because our children are no longer used to either complete darkness, or complete silence, the way we were when younger – there is always so much ambient light and sound all around to spoil the magic of a dark night.
What Stands Out: Junuka Deshpande’s black and white illustrations, which make the back bone of the book, really. I like the way she starts with what a child is familiar with – road, traffic, road block (a tree has fallen across the road) – and slowly drawing the reader into the mysteries that a forest hides at night. Two children get off the bus (implied) and stroll into the dark forest. The book is about what they see and hear. And then, skillfully, bringing the reader back to the bus (which is now ready to resume its journey).
The use of thick white paint at places lends a lovely luminosity to the dark night.
Will be best enjoyed by: 3-6 years
From snuggly to snugglier: Try and find a way of giving the child a real experience of a dark, really dark, night.
Ha Ha! Quotient: 2
Touches The Heart: 3
Cuts Through The Clutter: 4
Visual Appeal: 4
Encore Quotient: 4
Thank God it’s not moral science: 4
Show, don’t tell: 5
Hey, this is a really important book!: 4