Mumbaiwale: On Republic Day, let three cool children’s books remind you that we are all one
I spent most of Christmas afternoon reading to a six-year-old nerd. She’d come to the party dressed in tulle, lace and bows. But her tastes were not typically girly. She liked sharks, she told me – the toothier the better. And so we pored over a book about shark species (some have 300 teeth!). We then moved on to dinosaurs, wondering if the smelly swamp dinos were ever invited to parties. “Maybe a brachiosaurus invited them,” she said. “His nose was on the top of his head, so he was far from the smell.”
Kids’ books, like kids, can be wiser than their grown-up counterparts. Karadi Tales’ new title, The Mountains of Mumbai takes barely 40 pages to deliver a message of India‘s and Mumbai’s plurality. Author Labanya Ghosh and illustrator Pallavi Jain set their 40-page story in Mumbai. Doma, who’s visiting her friend Veda, is homesick for Ladakh. What follows is an adventure, as the girls use their imagination to turn this coastal concrete jungle into a faraway mountainside. The illustrations are gorgeous, there’s not a superfluous word in the text. It makes the book a thing of joy – a lesson in adjusting, dreaming big and holding on to friendships.
Another book that might help a child understand the headlines is the classic, We, The Children Of India. Written by Leila Seth, the first woman Chief Justice of a state High Court, and illustrated by the celebrated Bindia Thapar, it’s a great primer for understanding India. The narration lays out how we won our freedom, and what happened next, via the Preamble to the Constitution. It explains why we are secular, what it means to call a country a democratic republic and why sovereignty matters in a nation. And it lays out the difference between rights and duties in a way that makes perfect sense in a child’s world.
For those a little older (and for you to read along and catch up) is the new paperback, The Constitution Of India For Children. Writer Subhadra Sen Gupta and illustrator Tapas Guha look at the magnificent document adopted 70 years ago and how and why it came to be. Did you know it took two years, 11 months and 17 days to realise? Which language is our Constitution written in? Were women a part of the drafting team? Why do political parties have symbols next to their names? What is India’s official language? And if you’re a not smelly swamp dino but are an Indian citizen, can anyone really deny you entry to the party?