March 20, 2013

Bijoy and the Big River

Assam for me conjures Bhupen Hazarika's haunting voice, the lovely tune of the TV serial on Brahmaputra, the Bihu dance, the majestic river, the red and white fabrics, bamboos and my visit to Guwahati where my grandparents stayed for a while.

Today is World Storytelling Day and here is a book written by dear friends from Saffron Tree. 

A charming tale set in Assam, Bijoy and the Big River follows a young boy- Bijoy and his family into the world they live in. A father who raises eri silkworms on castor plants, a mother who spins yarn and a curious Bijoy who takes in all his world offers with wonder. Weaving and farming, the eri silkworms, xihus ( river dolphins) and boats play equal roles as the family thrives along the riverside, their life intertwined with it.

Like the majestic river, flow the pictures and the narrative together taking the reader along, sometimes happy, sometimes in awe, but always connected. 

A part of Tulika’s Where I live series, the factoids add to the whole aura,not causing any breaks in the story. There is a subtle pointer for the adults to opt for what is now commonly known as Ahimsa/ Peace silk and a wake up call against trashing of the river near cities and of course the need for conservation given the declining number of river dolphins and rhinos. 

As expected, a nod to the bamboo, the festival Bihu, the floods, the type of housing and water based commuting, muga and other silks are inevitable in a book on Assam. The authors incorporate these aspects seamlessly in the book. 

Bijoy’s journey on the Burha Luit, by ferry, to the silk village of Sualkuchi captures the magic of childhood in general of new experiences that offer glimpses of adulthood. 

Unlike a typical picture book, this is a photo book. The snaps are from multiple sources but they speak in unison for the story. The illustrations are more cursory in nature. 

An India map puts Assam in context to the young reader summing up facts on the state. The book to my seven year old daughter Anushka, came across as a true story of an affectionate family living in tandem with nature. 

I am excited that my friends Praba and Meera have co-authored this book and have more up their sleeve! Take a bow P and M. 

The book can be ordered here.


sandhya said...

Wonderful review, in your trademark style, Art! I always marvel at your economy of words.

Artnavy said...

heheh- Thanks Sandhya and I marvel at your depth and spread of knowledge