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T.C.A. Avni

By Ken Spillman and Manjari Chakravarti
Year 2016, Rs. 150.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

Just as Dennis feels isolated because he is not understood by others, Clumsy! is a book about a little girl with two left feet and all thumbs—food spills on her clothes, milk tumbles from her glass, and things just seem to ‘wobble, tumble and shatter’ around her. She faces constant reprimands and recriminations, teasing and scolding, until she begins to withdraw into herself and all the thoughts she finds herself unable to voice fill her head, and which express themselves became pictures and drawings of the world around her. What is truly important is how the author brings out that while the relationships in themselves are not intentionally abusive, they end up serving the same purpose— she feels isolated and frightened, and is unable to respond to her mother’s gentle queries about what is wrong. She retreats into a world of her own by getting lost in picture books, using art as her coping mechanism to deal with a world which is often caustic with her. The day when her grandmother gives her a painting set proves to be a turning point, as the ‘colours dance around her’, making her want to dance with them. She can use the colours of the paints to express herself just as beautifully as the pictures which she loves to look at, and in this world she isn’t the clumsy child who can’t catch the ball or spin without falling or drink the milk without spilling. What I liked best was how the book ended, with the lines: She painted all her stories, and wrote her name in the corner. It was the name that her parents had given her, a name that many seemed to have forgotten. And it wasn’t Clumsy, Slowcoach, Careless, Sloppy, Messy, Butterfingers… The book is as important a read for parents as it is for the children for whom it is written. When dealing with children, especially if they are being rambunctious, it is easy to forget that the way we talk to them (or about them) can hurt their feelings. And we may not realize how the small hurts are piling up until it can become too late, and the child withdraws into him/her-self. It is important for children to feel appreciated and loved, and constant insults eats away at self-confidence, making it harder for children to express themselves in constructive ways. ...

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