Published By: Tulika Books
Story: Sowmya Rajendran
Illustrations: Renuka Rajiv
In a Sentence: How a family’s spontaneous imaginativeness transforms a dreaded boring power cut in the night into a fun family game.
What is it About: A family conjures up an entire jungleful of endearing animals by creating animal-shadows in the dark, without elaborate expensive toys and gadgets. .
Form and language: Prose. The words are easy, simple, and kept to the bare minimum. Not a word more than is required.
What makes it snuggly: familiar situation (everyday powercut); believable characters (you, me, grannies, kids); shows without sermonizing how the boring can be made interesting.
What Stands Out: Perspective
Will be best enjoyed by: under 5s.
Also by families who suffer power cuts on a daily basis, our generation of parents that has grown up with games in the dark, grannies who love to create shadow puppets, families who love doing little little things together.
From snuggly to snugglier: It can be a fun exercise getting the kids to try out these figures in the dark. And for those households with uninterrupted power backup, it might just be an added game putting out the lights for a while for a candle light jamboree. Once the kids have got a hang of it, they’re sure to get busy creating their own million unique stories on the walls!
Ha Ha! Quotient: 2
Touches The Heart: 2
Cuts Through The Clutter: 3
Visual Appeal: 3
Real-world dream-world balance: 4
Encore Quotient: 3
Thank God it’s not moral science: 5
Show, don’t tell: 4
Hey, this is a really important book!: 2
Want to read more?
Text: The book is simple take on a power-cut situation that most young readers would be familiar with. And indeed, in many a household, children do get busy creating shadows in the dark, so the readers will instantly connect with the context. Where Sowmya’s ingenuity comes in is in having woven an interesting story around those figures in the dark. She shows the spontaneous involvement of the entire family in this exercise, leaving the reader with a warm happy feel. A fun read for those having found themselves in similar situations. And a comforting read for those young readers afraid of the looming figures in the dark. Endearing animals – and not ghosts (!) – sure sounds like just the thing to perk up the ‘oh-no-not-again’ mood of a powercut!
Visuals: Are basic in form, but imaginatively done. And because Renuka has (in most cases) put a human figure in the foreground, it helps the young reader figure out how the shadow of a particular animal gets up there on the wall. In keeping with the mood of the situation (power cut / darkness), she has kept the colour tones low in shades of grey and black, adding just a dash of a bright shade to accentuate a particular thing (the candle light / the green bushes / drops of water and so on). So when the book starts with a ‘Power Cut! Power Cut!’, we see only black silhouettes of the family. When the mother lights a candle, we have them visible, but still in muted blacks and whites. A neat contrast with the sudden dash of colour on their clothes on the last page when the power comes back. Thoughtfully done.
Also, the absence of any other detail in the frames helps to keep the focus firmly on the animal shadows.