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Excuse me, Is this India
by Anushka Ravishankar
Tara Publishing, Chennai
(Ages 4 - 8)
Review by Fatima Husain
This charming book of verses and quilts is directed towards the 4-8 year olds. The book came about when Leutwiler returned from a journey to India and made rich quilts depicting her travels. Ravishankar took these quilts and wove a story of a mouse traveling in India in verse form. Leutwiler is a Swiss textile artist who lives in Germany and visited India in 1999. She created the quilts and pictures to remember her trip. Ravishankar is an Indian writer who has written several books of absurd verse for children.
In the story, a mouse receives a gift of a quilt and goes to India. He flies there but when he lands he is not sure if he is in India and
goes on a journey to the beach, to a store, in an autorickshaw, etc., all the while wondering if he is in India. From the illustrations,
the city appears to be Chennai. Then he is back on the plane, singing to keep it in air, and wakes up to realize it was all a dream.
There is a nonsensical quality to the verses, which will appeal all the more to young children and to adults too.
I leave you with the beginning of the book:
My Aunt Anna came back from India
With stories of places to which she had been.
To warm me through the winter, she sewed me a quilt
With pictures of all the things she had seen.
I looked at the pictures and secretly thought,
That one day I'd see all the places and things
Which were in the quilt that my aunt Anna brought:
Elephants, bandicoots, crows with black wings.
Under the quilt I closed my eyes
And found I was in for a big surprise!
Book Description: Illustrated with exquisite textile art, this is a story of travel through a child's imagination. The brilliant nonsense verse captures the surreal mixture of places, people and creatures that make up India.
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