For my first review, I chose a recent book from Tulika Publishers that has left me…wordless!
Ammachi’s Glasses is a wordless picture book and that is so amazing on so many levels. Done well, a good wordless picture book breaks down so many barriers – age, literacy, language, culture. And Ammachi’s Glasses is done fabulously well.
One morning Ammachi (grandmother in malayalam) wakes up and can’t seem to find her glasses. But even though she is clearly blind as a bat without them, she continues to go about her day with hilarious effects.
Page after page, illustrator Priya Kuriyan beautifully chronicles every mishap as Ammachi washes the cat and hangs it to dry, wears her grand-daughter’s clothes and has no idea what she has put in her stew.
The pictures have a splendid level of detail which is what really makes this book work. Every illustration captures the humor and drama of the moment, from the blissful lack of awareness in Ammachi’s face of the mess she is making and the constant tension in family members faces as they try – and fail – to prevent the next accident. Kuriyan captures the little elements that make a home in a way that really transported me back to India – the Malayalam calendar on the wall (much like the Tamil calendar I have seen hanging in my mother’s kitchen), the big jars of pickle (how I long for home-made pickle) and of course, the ever-present crow, which besides being practically a staple in independent homes in India is crucial to this story – but let me not give it all away.
This is a great find. Both my 5 year old and 2 year old love it. My 5 year old is able to narrate the story in her own words, which is a great way to improve story-telling abilities. There is no scope for making mistakes while reading, so this is a good way to draw in shy readers and get them to participate in storytime.
It is also possible to tell the same story in different ways and in different languages too, without feeling like you have departed from some script. The absence of words is somewhat liberating – you can really have fun “reading” it aloud to your kids.
Look forward to seeing more wordless picture books. I am definitely a fan of the author.
Disclosure: I recently became a sub-distributor of Tulika Books. Ammachi’s Glasses is in my collection. That said, I only source and distribute books that I already like and write about books from across publishing houses.