A young author made up a few poems to entertain her daughter at bedtime. Her motive was not only to entertain her daughter but also to introduce her favourite festival to her daughter. A series of poems stapled into makeshift binding was then converted into a book, and thus, “From The Toddler Diaries” was born! Written by Shoumi Sen and illustrated by Abira Das Celebrate Durga Puja With Me” is the first book in the series.
Little Riya takes you on a journey and explains Durga Puja to the young ones. She starts with the reason why the festival is celebrated, and the build-up of excitement as Pujo draws near. She then walks you through the days of Pujo, from Mahalaya, when the goddess descends from heavens, to Shashti, Saptami, Navami, Bijoy Dashami and finally Visarjan. She explains the significance of each day and the celebrations which take place on each day.
The book brings to life the fun as well as the devotion during Durga Puja. Since the book is written in verse there is a musical undercurrent to the book. This book has words like protima, dhaki, etc giving you a flavour of Calcutta. You even have an Americanism sneaking in where the author uses the word “fall”, for the season when Durga Puja takes place. By using contextual words like “bhog“, “khichudi“, the child is introduced to the cultural flavour of the festival. It will give them a tangible link to the things that they can identify themselves when they attend the Puja.
The illustrations complement the verse. They are bright, colourful and attractive, bringing to life the author’s words. My favourite is the one in which the sculptor is painting the eyes of the goddess. An important part of the Pujo has been shown with simplicity and devotion.
Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, etc have been staples in introducing children to Indian heritage and culture. However, there is a lack of books which cater primarily to younger children who are just learning to read. This book fills the gap in the market for 3 to 5-year-olds. “From The Toddler Diaries” is an entertaining and colourful way to keep the children in touch with their roots, making them aware of their links to India. “Celebrate Durga Puja With Me!” is perfect for cosy bedtime read as well as for reading practice.
About The Author
Shoumi Sen is the creator of “From The Toddler Diaries”, a series of children’s books on Indian culture and mythology. Her books ‘Celebrate Holi With Me!’ and ‘Celebrate Durga Puja With Me!’ have received rave reviews from kids and parents alike and she is getting ready to launch her next book, ‘Celebrate Onam With Me!’
Her childhood in Paris, Bombay, and Dubai provided her with opportunities to appreciate how Indians preserve their cultural connectedness even while living abroad. In her words, “Living outside India, it is sometimes tough for parents to ensure that their children remain connected to their Indian roots, while at the same time, appreciating the culture of the place they are growing up in. Books can certainly help with that challenge and my hope is that ‘From The Toddler Diaries’ can play a part in helping our children grow into global citizens.”
Connect with Shoumi via her website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.