Book Title: Thammi’s Gift
Author: Himani Dalmia
Illustrator: Priya Kuriyan
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Recommended Age: 5-8 years (the book is text heavy so 5 year olds might not be able to read it independently)
I lost my grandfather during the lockdown, and my then 3 year old (now 5.5 year old) has since tried his best to figure out where his “big naanu” vanished. He often asks us which star big naanu turned into, and why he chose to go far away from us. Even though we talk about the topic openly, we have avoided reading about it. When I came to know that the book ‘Thammi’s Gift’ could help a child cope with the death of a loved one, I knew it would be perfect for him.
The book is inspired by the life of the pioneering Indian librarian, Bandana Sen, who helped set up libraries in schools across the country. When her granddaughter, Devika was about to be born, she created a vast home library for her, but didn’t stop at that, she gifted her the joy of reading by making sure she read to her every day!
But one day, her grandmother (who she fondly called Thammi) suddenly passed away. Devika missed her reading sessions with Thammi, even though her parents tried their best to make up for it. One night, just as Devika couldn’t stop worrying about her first day at school, her beloved Thammi re-appears to take her on a magical reading adventure that made both my child and me exclaim, “wow”! An adventure, that not only calmed her nerves, but leveraged her love for reading to help her sail through school smoothly.
The author has seamlessly woven together multiple themes exploring the loss of a loved one, changes in the routine of a child, anxiety and starting school. The common thread running through all these themes is the power of books and how the joy of reading can give one comfort in any kind of situation. Being a parent who has read to their child every day since he was born, and has used books to get through the pandemic, sickness, online school, start of physical school, and much much more, I could relate very well to the power of books being highlighted in the story, and had goosebumps when I read certain pages! When the author mentions reading all the time – including in the car, in the bathtub and on the pot to help the little girl deal with difficult emotions, I felt like she was describing our life because that is exactly what we do! The relatability of the story is endearing.
A book lover will always be able to find solace and comfort in their favourite books, no matter the situation. This is the essence of the book, and this is Thammi’s Gift, not only to her grandchild but also to the many children who read every day in the libraries created by her, and through the author, to the reader of this book. As a parent, I have experienced this first hand. My child, who found the transition from online school to physical school tough on certain days, had a change of heart towards his school once he discovered that there was a library at school too! The author has shared some amazing coping strategies for children going through change, using books as tools, which are sure to be helpful.
I read this book along with my 5.5 year old avid reader, and he was spellbound from the very first page – not at the story, but at the illustrations. He had the time of his life identifying characters from his favorite books hidden in the pages including the gruffalo, cat in the hat, his favorite pigeon and so many many more! If you are a keen reader of children’s books, the illustrations will be an absolute treat for you! My favorite illustrations though were of the parents reading to the children in all sorts of positions! The look on their faces and the realistic detailing, makes the reader feel like they are right there reading with them – kudos to the brilliant Priya Kuriyan for doing what only she can do!
The book also answered my son’s question of where his big naanu is?
“I never left you, my love. Whenever you need me, I will be here.”
In short, ‘Thammi’s Gift’ is like a gift that keeps giving.
With each reading you discover something new, more layers, a new detail in the illustration. Each reading brings forth different emotions – the pain of losing a grandparent, anxiety of starting school, and the sheer excitement of a fantasy adventure! If you are looking to equip your child with strategies to deal with change, or want to read a story that celebrates the power the books, please do get this one. Let me know how many book characters you find in it!
If you enjoyed this review and wish to receive “Thammi’s Gift”, you can buy the book from Amazon (kbc affiliate link),CLICK & BUY NOW!
Disclaimer: We are proud to be part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this book as a review copy from the publisher.