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Arthi Anand Navaneeth

GROWING UP IN PANDUPUR
By Adithi and Chatura Rao. Cover design by Priya Kuriyan
Young Zubaan., 2011, pp. 99, 195.00

POSTCARDS FROM URA
By Savita Rao
Tulika Publishers, Chennai, 2010, pp. 30, 150.00

WHERE IS AMMA?
By Nandini Nayar  illustrations Srividya Natrajan
Tulika Publishers, Chennai, 2010, pp. 18, 95.00

MALA'S SILVER ANKLETS
By Annie Besant illustrations by Nancy Raj
Tulika Publishers, Chennai, 2011, pp. 18, 95.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 11 NOVEMBER 2011

Growing up in Pandupur, the title itself holds the promise of nostalgia and brings forth memories for the older reader and fills the younger ones with anticipation. Set in a fictitious town, rather like a contemporary Malgudi, Pandupur lies somewhere between Mysore and Bangalore by the river Dhun. There are thirteen stories in all split among the two sister authors. The stories range from the cute to funny, from the sensitive to shocking, filled with the bitter-sweet and the innocence and cruelty only children are capable of. Everything is not always rosy but there is always hope of a better tomorrow. Across various stories, there are references to broken families, poverty, sibling rivalry, low self-esteem, senility and child sexual abuse. But the children emerge stronger and find a way to smile through all this with a little help from some encouraging adults of course. What is lovely is the characterization of the children with their concerns, flaws and courage. The occasional wit and humour is never over the top and makes the stories very real. Pandupur comes across as a typical town with its localities of poverty and riches, a mix of locals and outsiders who have made it their home. There are many who love the town and then some who are still trying to find a foothold and long for the city. Young Zubaan has a winner in this book. And the inviting cover illustration by Priya Kuriyan prompts you to pick up the book. Postcards from Ura transports the older reader to the era of pen pals and innocence and wonder at all things foreign. It is relevant in today's world of email when children view letters as exotic rarities and treasure them. This story opens with a rather reluctant writer Dorji, a class five student, from a place called Ura in Bhutan. At the behest of his teacher, the protagonist corresponds with Toto who resides in urban Bengaluru. The local food, attire, play, pet dog, natural surroundings, housing, school all form the topics of the various letters. There are little fact bits on every page along with photos to simplify and explain things for the reader who wants to know more. Sure to arouse curiosity from the first letter itself, there is a lovely flow and continuity to the letters. You never get to see the letters that come to Ura from Toto, but you can ...


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