Monday, March 7, 2011


A wonderful picture book has come the way of the Doucette Library, thanks to  Tulika Publishers.  Home by Nina Sabnani takes a unique approach to storytelling as she looks at the concept of what is, or makes, a home.

I said this was a picture book but it's not your typical 32-page picture book that opens one page at a time, front to back.  This book is a compilation of images and words on four boards that fold out, accordion style from a central panel that represents a window. The book works best upright (it will stand up on its own) rather than lying down. This format comes from traditional storytelling from Rajasthan, India.  The back cover describes this as,

The Kaavad is a portable wooden shrine used by traditional storytellers…Its many-hinged panels display vibrantly painted scenes from local myths and folktales.  The Kaavadiya Bhat narrates the stories, opening up each painted panel as he goes along, pointing at each figure with a peacock feather.  Through the stories he reinforces inter-connections within his community and establishes his own space in it.

So, pull out the two front boards, the ‘cover’, to open the book and look at where birds, animals, insects and humans live.  The reader will learn that some live in groups whereas others live alone.  The central panel, with a die-cut window, tells us that we all live in the same world and looks ‘out’ onto images from the folded panels at the back of the book.  Turn the book 90 degrees either way and there are additional images on each of the folded boards that depict different types of families (large, small, one with two dads, single mom), different types of homes (apartments, tents, huts, even street people living in a tunnel) and showing that every family and home has its share of stories.

 The illustrations are rendered fairly simplistically, similar to drawings done by children or in a 'folk art' style.

Check out the YouTube video where the author provides background information about the Kaavad and how it works.  She also explains how she sees her book as a way to push the imagination of a child reader, as it enables them to make up their own narratives for each image.

This book could tie into the Alberta Education social studies curriculum for grades 1 to 3, related to identity, family, community (specifically India, in grade 3).  Otherwise, the book could be used for prompting storytelling at the primary grades. Students who are struggling with learning English as a second language may find this book useful, as well.


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