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Pavithra Srinivasan

By Anushka Ravishankar
Tara Books, Chennai, 2013, pp. 38, Rs. 200.00


If ever there was a book that captured every nuance that might appeal to a child, then this is probably it. Not for nothing is Anushka Ravishankar dubbed India’s Dr Seuss; her words are bright, appealing, and flavoured with such spirit and energy that even a word like Papayaaaaaaaa! is transformed into a long-drawn out horrified scream—uttered by Falguni Fruitseller, who stumbles upon a crocodile in a ditch—and reduces you to excited giggles.   For, that’s what this book is about: a village full of various colourful members, a fruitseller, a policeman, a doctor and a wrestler catch sight of a crocodile slipping by in a ditch, and try everything in their means to either kill or capture it—to no avail. So who does deal with the escaped crocodile anyway? And by the way, should it really be killed? This might be a little book in terms of text—but those simple words portray such sharp, beautiful pictures that they make you grin in spite of yourself. The biggest draw, of course, are the illustrations: with a few master-strokes and just two or three colours, Pulak Biswas brings the people to life: Falguni’s horror; Probin the policeman’s grit and determination, conster-nation of the entire village —but these are not all. The best is the hapless crocodile itself, which occupies pride of place in every page. There it looms, swimming in a ditch, jaws full of sharp teeth, watching everyone with round eyes filled alternatively with worry, anger, puzzlement and even wry amusement as a doctor attempts to inject it full of—what, the doctor only knows. It’s so much fun that each page makes you laugh out loud. It also makes you wonder at the novel ways people use to confront an object of fear, and at how one person’s clear thinking saves the day. And it makes you think about the world we live in, the creatures that coexist with us, and our own shifting perspectives.   Through it all, once you’ve finished reading it, you go back to it again and again, to savour the simple text, and the beautiful illustrations. Do yourselves and your kids a favour: buy this book. Read it aloud, act out the characters, live the story. Catch the crocodile as many times as you like—because each time is a new adventure.   Pavithra Srinivasan is ...

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