Title: Kolam Kanna
Written By: Vibha Batra
Illustrated By: Jemma Jose
Publisher: Puffin Books
No. of Pages: 136 pages
Recommended age: 8-12 years
Modern society has evolved to provide equal encouragement to girls and boys in pursuing bold interests, but the same level of backing is not yet observed for traditionally feminine talents. Some skills are just assumed to be out of league for males and all the females are assumed to be gifted with such abilities. After the award winning book ‘Pinkoo Shergill Pastry Chef‘, Vibha Batra has made sure that her readers will get riled by people who say, “Never have I heard of a boy making Kolams.”
Kolam Kanna is story of Bharathi, who was named after the great poet and rationalist, Bharathidasan. He displays a determined personality as great as his name. He learned to draw Kolams by helping his mother with the auspicious floor art in front of Beena Madam’s flat.
Pravin’s Paradiso Apartments has been Bharathi’s second home for years, where he has played pranks on residents with his apartment friends. The author has an impressive mention of the phrase “young and foolish” during conversations between them. This gives young readers a sense that there is no point in holding on to the guilt of earlier mistakes. Plus, it gives a good experience to continue freaking out apartment bullies!
One day, a notice inviting ‘Kolam Kondattam’ participation stuck beside the lift caught Bharathi’s and his friends’ attention. It’s a touching moment when his friends imagine him winning the first prize, but Bharathi’s heart was pounding with the possibility of winning second prize, dinner for two at the Marina Hotel.
Do you think Bharathi can make his way to a ‘ladies only’-‘residents only’ ‘column contest’, I mean the ‘Kolam Kontest’? This isn’t going to be easy, given the strong resistance from PPTs (Praveen Paradiso Thugs) and his existing reputation as a mischief-maker. Read this fun filled book to know Bharathi’s high-risk plan and how close this can get him to his longing of winning a grand dinner for his parents.
The story covers a huge emotional range. It has a theme of friendship, unconditional support, empathy and appreciation for the well deserved. There are consequences of expecting inclusion, the privilege to act unfair but also a gentle reminder to provide equal opportunities. There is humble pride in the eyes of the exceptional artist, the desire to get one chance to showcase his brilliance, disappointment of being an outsider and the feeling of ‘should have listened’, but most of all, there is perseverance.
The book is beautifully designed with a hint of Tamil. My daughter’s favorite illustration and Tamil reference was the round face of Mr. Hari, while every occurrence of the word ‘poda’ reminded me of my Tamil friends.
A great shout-out to Jemma Jose for captivating illustrations of Bharathi’s work. One can imagine the vibrant colors even in black & white. Readers are welcomed into each chapter by a beautiful Kolam above a catchy heading. Also, the capture of the heartwarming gesture of one of the Kolam contest winners was powerful enough to moist my eyes.
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Disclaimer: Mona and her daughters are part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this book as a review copy from the publisher through kbc.