Rachna Dhir reviews our book ‘Aunty Jui’s Baby’ on GoodBooks.
The book is both illustrated and written by Madhuri Purandare. The inside jacket of the book informs the reader that ‘she makes up stories about simple, everyday events in a child’s life. Her strength lies in the simplicity of her language and the beauty of her artwork.’ Fortunately, neither the cover illustration nor the brief description on the back cover give away the plot. All that one is told is that ‘Anu and her mother visit Aunty Jui to see her new baby. Aai and Aunty fuss over her but Anu thinks the baby is really silly.’
Ms. Purandare, an alumna of Mumbai’s JJ School of Art, is an outstanding illustrator. All the four characters’ moods in the book are captured expressively by the accompanying illustrations. While she chooses to draw Anu and her Aai, almost as caricatures, she is able to make Aunty Jui all soft and capable of comforting a new born baby, with her artistic genius. The contrast is clear and works well as the story progresses.
In today’s day and age of ‘political correctness’, the presence of a word like ‘Chee!’ in reaction to a little baby doing potty in the nappy could perhaps have been avoided. On the other hand, it has been presented in quite an appropriate context and hence, one can easily be persuaded to overlook it.
The eye for detail with regard to Anu’s and her mother’s clothes, the new baby’s toys, Anu’s childhood belongings and such are worth mentioning. The use of colors is subtle and appropriate.The theme of the story and the way it is dealt with, reinforces the fact that Ms. Purandare is a multi faceted individual, who also sings and is involved with Marathi theatre, in addition to having written and illustrated more than twenty books for children.
Welcoming a sibling, whether in the immediate or extended family or circle of friends, is both an exciting and sometimes traumatic experience for elder off-springs. In India, we have few books dealing with the feelings of anticipation and jealousy that might be experienced naturally by some children. Hence, books like Aunty Jui’s Baby are much needed by both parents and teachers to help children deal with the transition. The book is likely to be popular as the approach will most certainly influence not only children but adults in dealing with the situation at hand, without ‘moralizing’ any message. The story is told in simple words and clearly steers away from a ‘preaching’ tone.