Kolam Kanna

by Chandra Sundeep
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Cover picture of Kolam Kanna by Vibha Batra

I recently had the pleasure of reading Vibha Batra’s “Kolam Kanna,” and if I were to encapsulate my reading experience in a single word, it would undoubtedly be “delightful!” This book is a true treasure for readers.

The story revolves around Bharathi, a nine-year-old boy who stands out from his peers due to his passion for creating kolams, in which he excels. His Amma, and his friends, Alagu and Tabassum, wholeheartedly support his artistic endeavors. When a kolam kontest is announced as part of the Navarathri celebrations at Pravin’s Paradiso apartments, Bharathi’s friends encourage him to participate, as there’s a special prize he yearns to win: a family dinner at a famous restaurant. However, Bharathi faces a heart-wrenching setback when he is forbidden from participating because his parents work as domestic servants in the same apartments. This disappointment sets the stage for a series of adventures as Bharathi and his friends embark on a mission to save the day.

This book is ideally suited for children aged 10-12. Older children may find the story and narration a bit simplistic, while younger children might struggle with the length and themes.

“Kolam Kanna” offers a multi-layered appeal. Let’s begin with the fundamentals: the title, font style, size, and page count are all impeccably executed. Jemma Jose’s illustrations enrich the narrative, with facial expressions eloquently conveying emotions.

One of the book’s standout features is its rich Indian flavor. The characters in our story are diverse and reflect our nation, which helps children connect to it.. Additionally, Vibha Batra’s commendable effort in challenging gender stereotypes shines through in the endearing main characters.

The story’s main theme is friendship, but Batra also addresses topics like inclusivity, economic diversity, religious differences, and the art of creating kolams in an easy-to-understand way.

As a Tamilian, I particularly appreciated the inclusion of Tamil words, which infuse the story with a local flavor. Readers familiar with the language will undoubtedly relish this aspect, while others have an opportunity to expand their vocabulary.

However, one aspect that leaves me with mixed feelings is the writing style. The excessive use of brackets, ellipses, and colloquial English, exemplified in sentences like “sounded like a fair exchange, no?” is not only incorrect and potentially irksome but also risks encouraging children to adopt this style.

Despite these minor reservations, “Kolam Kanna” is an enjoyable read with the potential to serve as an educational tool for parents and teachers wishing to explore themes of inclusivity, gender stereotypes, friendship, and more with young readers.

 

Wordsopedia Rating 4.3/5

Title: Kolam Kanna Author: Vibha Batra
Publisher: Puffin Publication date: 24 Jul 2023
Genre: Fiction—Children’s Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143461135 No. of Pages: 136

Buy your copy here on Amazon

About the author

Vibha Batra is a Chennai-based Indian author, advertising consultant, poet, lyricist, translator, travel writer, playwright, and columnist. Punjabi, by descent, Vibha was born and raised in Kolkata and later moved to Chennai many years ago.

 

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