Nani Ki Naav, written by acclaimed poet Harindranath Chattopadhyay and illustrated vibrantly by Nirzara Verulkar, is a Hindi picture book for children over five – a perfect blend of education and engagement.
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Nina and her Nani (grandmother) decide to embark on an adventurous voyage, packing all the essentials they’ll need for this journey. Their trip is complemented by eye-catching, simple yet adorable illustrations – brightly coloured, roughly sketched and the right amount of messy.
But the real stars are neither Nani nor Nina, it’s the things they carry that steal the show. A multitude of household items is interwoven together in a rhyming verse that evokes enough intrigue for the child to get hooked.
Calm seas and crocodile waters
The book begins with a sing-song, ‘Naav chali, naav chali, nani ki naav chali’, which brings to mind many Hindi poetry recitation sessions conducted in school.
It continues with a clever use of alliteration – ‘Nina ki Nani ki Naav chali….’, and it’s easy to mistake Nina for Nani; the author gets the reader to pay close attention to this trick.
Besides being a fun story, it also has educational value. In a surprise element, the verses introduce kids to math (oh yes, that devil) unexpectedly disguised as a twist not foreseen, making the book into something more without either child or parents realizing it. This is a testament to the tact and literary talent of Chattopadhyay, equal to that of Roald Dahl in his use of the English language.
A colourful palette
The illustrations in Nani Ki Naav are colourful, and interactive and defy convention and logic, both in a good way, immensely adding to the charm of the rhythmic verses; the splash of pink, yellow and blues, all come together to make water a character in itself on this adventure.
Nirzara Verulkar’s illustrations resemble a seven-year-old’s drawings, aptly capturing the innocence and wonder of a child.
The protagonists sailing in a paper boat, the change of colours in the crocodile’s appearance and the surrounding elements, all result in the standard makings atypical of a good children’s book – anything can happen between the pages.
The cover deserves a special mention, not because of its vibrant invitation to children to enter a magical world but because of the nuances it captures of the image of the grandmother, familiar to Indian life and household across regions – bespectacled, saree-clad, with warmth in her eyes, a smile on her face.
Phir ek magar ne peecha kiya,
Nani ki Naav ka peecha kiya,
Nina ki Nani ki naav ka peecha kiya,
Phir kya hua?
Analysis and Conclusion
The phonetic wordplay and the rhyme scheme make for an endearing read, overall. The book ends with fun puzzles, activities and games to do and play. This is a fun read for toddlers and parents looking for books for their little ones.
You can buy it here.