Title: The Sweet Shop Wars
Author: Chatura Rao
Illustrator: Rajiv Eipe
Publisher: Duckbill Books, Penguin Random House India
Age group: 5 – 8 years
The debate over the national language of India never ceases, and while one can debate and argue over it endlessly, the one language that unites people from the Indian sub-continent is the language of food. People of all religions and from different parts of the country, can get over their differences when they bond over food. This is the basic premise of this beautiful book, The Sweet Shop Wars.
Set in Hyderabad, the story revolves around the rivalry between two sweet shop owners, and the beautiful friendship that develops between the young children from the shops when they bond over panjiri, khubani ka meetha and swatting flies like ninjas! Their friendship ultimately helps the owners get over their rivalry too!
The book has brilliantly explored themes of business rivalry, which is a very relevant concept nowadays. My 5 yr old especially liked the parts where Fatima, the little girl, takes it upon herself to protect their sweet shop from the new shop next door, and starts swatting the flies and makes attractive posters to lure customers! However, given that he hardly has a concept of countries / cities and does not know about Pakistan or partition, it was difficult for him to understand why “panjiri” reminded a person living in India about Pakistan! As an adult, it was absolutely heartwarming and emotional to read it, because I have heard this exactly same line being repeated in my house innumerable times!
As a parent, I recommend every child should read this book because it will help them understand how powerful they can be in bringing harmony in their communities, and create a future free from hatred and enmity.
There are other hook books published by Duckbill which are just as engaging as this book is. You can read my review of another hook book, KITTEN TROUBLE here. And Shoo, Crow! here.
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