Title: The Girl Who Loved To Sing – Teejan Bai
Author and Illustrator: Lavanya Karthik
Publisher: Duckbill Books, Penguin Random House – India
Age group: 7 years+ (As suggested by the publisher. We at kbc recommend this book for mature young readers.)
Finding inspirational biographies for children is difficult, finding a biography that will leave a permanent imprint on your heart is rare. The Girl Who Loved To Sing is a book that will make you marvel at the spirit of Teejan Bai, who fought for her right to be allowed to sing.
Teejan Bai, a world renowned singer, born in small village called Ganiyari had to fight patriarchy and misogyny since she was born. Her family was upset at a girl child being born and even more upset at her being passionate about music (especially Pandvani, which was solely reserved for men). She was denied education and married off at an early age. But, none of these societal pressures and torments stopped her from following her passion. She began living and earning independently in another village, and continued her singing where she earned fame.
The author’s writing style was the highlight of the book for me. She describes the painful circumstances that Teejan lived through and just when you feel that your heart is about to be ripped out, the next page describes Teejan’s unwavering determination and her never give up spirit, referred to as ‘jhunjuni’ and ‘paagalpana’ through the book. This is what makes the book extremely inspiring.
The illustrations in the book, entirely in red, white and black are inspired by traditional Bhil folk art, and are totally mesmerising.
The book does have references to female infanticide, gender inequality, and child marriage, which could be a bit upsetting for some, however the author has dealt with the issues such that the reader is inspired to overcome adversities. After all, if Teejan Bai could have the courage to overcome age old patriarchy in a small village, so can girls all over the world.
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