Have you ever noticed how a ball of dough can entertain a child for hours? She would keep making shapes, rolling it up, making something else again and keep admiring her creations, and would want you to admire them as well. Nandini Nayar’s ‘What Shall I Make?’ captures this innocent play beautifully with a lovely story of a boy Neeraj and his mother.
Neeraj’s mother is making chapatis for the meal, and gives a little dough to Neeraj to play with. Neeraj pinches the ball of dough, pats it, pulls it, and is pondering over the question – “what shall I make?”. He ends up making different animals out of the dough – a snake, a mouse, a lion, a cat. His cute imagination turns it into a make-believe play, and he rolls up the dough before his animals can come and get him. And no chapatis for guessing what happens to the dough in the end – Neeraj’s mother helps him roll it into a chapati, and he has a great meal.
Think of a chapati, and what comes to your mind – it’s warm, soft, puffy and very satisfying, isn’t it? Exactly the same holds true for this beautiful book, where the story has been very well supported by Proiti Roy’s endearing illustrations of Neeraj in a vest, and his cute animals. The recipe for the chapati that Neeraj makes at the end is a bonus for the children.
The author’s effort to ensure the right level of repetition for beginning readers, the rhythm of the story and the short sentences add to the appeal of the book. It helps that the setting of the story is a quite common one in the households where chapatis are made.It’s not surprising that this book was selected as Outstanding International Book, 2010, by the United States Board for Books for Young People (USBBY).
It’s a book worth sharing with your children, like you would share a warm chapati 🙂
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