Jan 112022
Review: The Girl Who Was A Forest – Janaki Ammal
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The journey from being a seed to a blossoming forest

Title: The Girl Who Was A Forest – Janaki Ammal (Dreamers series)

Author and Illustrator: Lavanya Karthik

Publisher: Duckbill Books by Penguin Random House India

Type: Paperback

Age group: 6 – 9 years

We could not stop wondering that a 48-page biography about a lesser-known, one of the earliest women scientists in India could be so inspirational.

The book talks about Edavalath Kakkat Janaki Ammal, born on November 4th 1897, in the seaside town of Thalassery in Kerala.

Janaki was born in a world full of rules, a world where an individual’s potential was determined by caste, race and gender (Sharav could not believe that there was a time when girls were not allowed to study).

But young Janaki was fascinated with the green world around her and wished to fly high to explore it. And once, while on a boat ride with her father, she expressed the desire to be like a bird. She desired to slip away into her secret world just like her father would when he watched birds. Her father wanted her to be a seed instead – 

You are not a bird, Janaki. You are a seed! And every seed is a promise of a forest-like you are. 

He rooted in her seeds of belief, courage & determination.

This little book aptly proves that words truly have the power to bring change. It’s a book that uplifts your spirit to believe in the power of dreams. The book, without being preachy, highlights the grit and determination of Janaki Ammal, who crushed the walls of caste and gender discrimination.

The author-illustrator Lavanya Karthik’s writing style is extremely impressive; not even for once will you feel like you are reading a biography. She has kept the text simple and uplifting. The illustrations, all in black, white, grey and green, inspired by the botanical and landscape art from the early nineteenth century, will leave you in awe.

Couldn’t resist trying out the marvellous illustrations

I did my little dance of victory and thanked the author in my heart when my son came to me two hours post our reading session to say,

‘Mumma, you know, I am a seed that will grow into a forest. And now I am so sure that I will become a paleontologist when I grow up and discover a dinosaur fossil.’

Whether he becomes one in the future or not, I am so happy that the book could help him believe even more in the power of his dreams.

Be a seed!

Happy Reading!!

You can find the rest of the books from the Dreamers series here.

We have other reviews of books in the Dreamer Series which might interest you:
The Boys Who Created Malgudi – R. K. Narayan and R. K. Laxman
The Girl Who Loved To Sing – Teejan Bai 
The Boy Who Loved Birds – Salim Ali

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