When people visit my house, they often think that I am surrounded with books that are meant for my five-year-old nephew. What I don’t tell them is that most of those picture books are mine. While this is in no way an exhaustive list nor does it have all of my favourite books, but these are just some of the top-of-my-mind favourite picture books.
A Lion in Paris: Richa’s already done a fantastic review of this book by Beatrice Alemagna. This is a warm and beautiful book about a lion leaving his Savannah home in search for work, love and a future in Paris. He ambles down the beautiful streets of Paris, wonders why Parisians are carrying swords (read French baguettes) and not challenging anyone to a duel, roars loudly at the underground metro station and then finally settles down in his new found home. Thanks to this book, my poor friend had to suffer Paris with me as I dragged her across the city to take lots of photos in front of a statue of a lion. I am not sure if I found the right one, but hey, it was a lion in Paris. Katha, Rs 150.
The Adventures of Captain Underpants: Parents aren’t going to love me for saying this, but I love this non-superhero series. I have a boxed set that every time you open chimes “Tra-la-la”, the war cry of the school principal Mr Krupp aka Captain Underpants. Harold and George, the resident school trouble makers, successfully hypnotiseMr Krupp into thinking he is a superhero who can fly around in his underpants. And the stories by Dave Pilkey are so much fun: talking toilets, evil cafeteria ladies and there’s even professor called Poopypants. There’s even a flip book tucked within the pages, which brings the adventure alive. Scholastic.Rs 125 each.
The Lorax: Dr Seuss came late into my life, actually I bought my first book for my nephew and ended up buying another copy for me. Published in 1971, The Loraxstill continues to be an iconic green book. Once-ler, a reclusive man, cut down the Trafulla trees to knit Thneeds – an invention of his that “everyone needs” – at a polluting factory.And the incessant deforestation goes on despite the warning of the Lorax who “speaks for the trees, for the trees have no tongues”. I find the story haunting, with a poignant environmental message, that we continue to ignore. If only the Once-lers of the world would listen to the Lorax more often.
Mommy?:It broke my heart (and many others), when Maurice Sendak died and all I did for the next few days was troll the web for stories about him. I love all Sendak books, but I recently found a copy of Mommy?at Shree Book Centre in Mumbai. This pop-up book designed by Matthew Reinhart and Al Yorinkstakes storytelling to another level. A baby crawls into a haunted house looking for his mommy and just when you think the scary monsters are going to spook him out, you realise why children love monsters. And in this book, the monsters love the baby too, even though he’s not as defenseless as he seems. Every page is a delight, with little pop-ups tucked in every corner.
Thumb Thumb books: The humble thumb art ups its ante with Tulika’s Thumb Thumb books. Featuring Thumb ThumbThambi and Thumb ThumbThangi (try saying it fast), these picture books are illustrated with thumb art. Turquoise thumb prints come together to form a peacock, pink ones form a flower and so on. A lovely book series for beginner readers.Tulika Books.Rs 45 each.
Posted 11th October 2012 by Richa Jha