Review also includes: Nikhil and Jay: The Star Birthday, 978-1913074616
These two little books actually contain 4 stories each, so the titles only refer to one of them. Jay is 5 and wants to do what his older brother Nikhil does, but he is often too small, too young or not strong enough. He has his own skills though, and though they spar, the brothers are close and mostly mutually supportive. Together they visit their paternal grandparents in a village far from the city, enjoy dosas and chutney, and even save the library threatened with closure when a local councillor comes to their protest. (If only it were that easy to save a library…) It’s good to note Jay’s assertion that boys can read pink fairy books if they want to! In the second book, the mixed race family expands temporarily as maternal grandparents visit from Chennai, and they work out the best place to eat mangoes without getting messy, celebrate Nikhil’s star birthday on the Tamil calendar, have a picnic on banana leaves in the park with all four grandparents, and work out how to keep in touch when their Indian grandparents have to return home. They are a modern family: Uncle Siva helps with the clearing up after the dosa feast, and Mum is sometimes working at weekends, or reading a book.
We learn a few words in Tamil in a Guide to New Words at the end, and each book also includes a recipe, one for making dosas and chutney, and another for sago payasam, a milky drink.
The illustrations by Soofiya, who describes themself as a visual artist and design educator, are simple but effective. One little niggle: as this is a book intended for younger readers, a font using the round α might be more appropriate.