The People Place Project has a new book for children. The new book that I read from them written by Vinitha and with art by Kripa charts the sights and insights along the route the popular Ganesh idol procession usually takes from the different localities to the seashore. The main story of the book is as seen from the eyes of a child. He is named Raju and is from a place called Peru Chawl in Lower Parel. The images and the main texts are about what he sees.
The twist in the book is the large ‘footnote’ below the images and what Raju sees and that dives deeper into the stories behind these places.
To me the book seemed a little confusing at first. My son who is 12 read the book and skipped the footnotes completely. I read the footnotes first and the boy’s story later.
The story is well told in the available format and is a lovely addition to the series about Mumbai.
As for the art in the book, I felt that it was more for adults than for the children. I would have liked it to be more simpler and brighter even though this is true to the real colours of Mumbai. I think that would have appealed to children better. But that’s my opinion, you can check out the book yourself and let me know.
When I spoke to the artist Kripa, she had a very interesting and I think valid reason for using this style. She doesn’t beleive in ‘dumbing down’ or infantalising content for children and call them child-friendly, like I have suggested. She said, “Children posses an innate sense of understanding and deciphering even abstract concepts like death, love, politics, etc. and expounding abstract concepts to even extremely young children is unnecessary.”
She also added she calls herself an urban realist. She does not beautify, change, seclude, and exlude elements of the society in her illustrations and provides different ways to engage with the cities!
That’s a wonderful way to look at the city. Isn’t it? I will try and incorporate some of these when I shoot cities. Because in my photography, while documenting Mumbai, I do exclude a lot of things.
To get the book for yourself or for your child to read together, contact Vinitha
Books recommended by Kripa that do talk the truth to children:
You can get it here
It’s the story of a farmer’s family and a mining company that wants to take away their land. In the book, a little girl stands up for it.
Behind the Lie from Pratham Books: “Valli and Ramesh live under a cloud of fear because of their father, who has a frightening temper. Will things ever change for them? A story about domestic violence, grit and hope.”