Paromita Chakrabarti’s recommendations for kids’ summer reads in today’s Indian Express includes Boo! When My Sister Died.
“If death is bewildering for grown-ups, how can children face up to it? Learning to deal with loss is never easy, but children’s literature in particular, rarely deals with the inevitability of death or coming to terms with grief. Over the last few years, however, a bunch of thoughtful picture books such as Oliver Jeffers’s The Heart and the Bottle and Rebecca Cobb’s Missing Mommy have explored the void created by the death of a loved one. Indian picture books, however, have rarely ventured into this zone, barring a few stray forays like My Grandfather Aajoba by Taruja Parande.
In the years since Richa Jha launched her independent publishing house Pickle Yolk Books, she has put together a small but well-curated list of books dealing with diversity, differences and now, death. Her new book is the story of Noorie, who has lost her sister Zoya, but finds herself unprepared for the overwhelming void it opens up in her life. She watches over her mother and her pet, Bruno, scared that they would leave her, too, frequents their favourite haunts where Zoya’s presence still lingers in the air. But, most of all, she is overcome by anger at her sister’s disappearance; at the overtures of Zoya’s best friend Dhara to draw her out, and, at her mother’s insistence that Zoya would always be a part of their lives.
Gautam Benegal’s evocative illustrations are the highlight of this beautiful volume. He captures Zoya’s disorientation and the messy nature of grief with great subtlety, aided in no small part by Jha’s economy of words and quiet understanding of the hollowness that loss engenders.”
Read the entire feature here.