Book Reviews by a Pioneer: Are Your Emotions Like Mine? by Chitwan Mittal and Shruti Hemani

I was initially not certain if this book would be of interest to many of the people who read my reviews. But then I realised that understanding and explaining emotions does not come easily to us – these are not something tangible. Yet, they form an integral part of our lives since birth, and are as important, if not more, than understanding physical well-being.

I come from a generation where understanding physical injury was easier than understanding emotions. Parents considered stomping as punishment to earth to make their child stop crying in case of a fall. If a child was sad, adults would vie with each other to make it laugh through making silly faces or tickling it. Every one of us may have similar tales to narrate.

Over the years, educators have realised the need to explain to the child various emotions that it may experience – happy, sad, angry, and a gamut of many others that it goes through every day, bewildered and possibly confused. This illustrated book describes these emotions pictorially. The book is aimed at 5-6 year old children who can read and identify their emotions through these pictures. The book is also a useful guide for parents and educators to help a child understand various emotions.

Emotions are abstract, and pictures may not do justice, or it may be difficult even for an adult, to explain to a child a few of the emotions shown in the book. But it does not matter – learning your emotions is probably a life-long affair. This book is the seed that would get planted in the child’s mind, to germinate at appropriate time. The book is priced at Rs 699/-, which could be a deterrent for reaching a wider audience.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: My First Hanuman Chalisa by Chitwan Mittal and Sarita Saraf

I have fond memories from my childhood and adolescence. There was no television then; we were expected to be in bed by 9 in the night. The only time we were permitted to stay up late – almost till midnight – was going out to watch Ramleela with my grandfather. This is a street play organised in Indian villages, towns and cities every year for a few days before the Hindu festival of Dussehra, depicting the life of Lord Rama till he killed Ravana.

Another memory is that of visits to the temple on Saturdays for the sweet boondi, traditional offering for the God. The common character in all these memories was our mythological superhero Lord Hanuman.

As I grew older, I saw my friends visiting the temple to pray for success in examinations. They also recited verses to the God when scared. Over years, I also mechanically listened to the verses sung by priests and devotees during prayer ceremonies. The words were melodious and soothing, but I did not understand the meaning as they were written in Awadhi language by the great poet Tulsidas. This hymn in praise of Lord Hanuman was Hanuman Chalisa.

I recently came across My First Hanuman Chalisa, an illustrated translation in English. This is not a story book; yet an interesting book not only for children, but also for adult parents of children. It was a revelation to me also as I finally understood the meaning of those verses from my memories. The illustrations will appeal to children as they read the book or the book is read to them. It is a good addition for the home library of every child, but price of Rs 999/- would be a deterrent for a wider outreach.