When I look into my bookshelf for books that have enriched me or entertained me so as to present them here, I realize that this is one book which has given endless hours of entertainment to my family: first when my daughter was growing up (it continues to do so even now), and now, when my 2-year old son has started picture-reading it. Tiddler by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a classic book that has a simple concept at its core – a fish that lies. Oh did I say, lies? Sorry, a fish that tells stories. What a fantastic way to introduce the word ‘story’ to our little ones.
Tiddler is a little fish with a big imagination. He is always late for class and tells tall tales as excuses. He met a mermaid or he rode a seahorse. Everyone including Miss Skate, a ray fish, who is his teacher, dismisses them as stories. But his close friend Johnny Dory likes Tiddler’s stories. Now, one day, by a certain turn of events, Tiddler gets caught in a fishing net and doesn’t turn up at class. How he manages to return, thanks to his reputation for stories, is the rest of the story.
I picked this book during a Scholastic book fair at my daughter’s school and am still feeling pretty good about it.
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- A simple, delightful story with vivid characterization of the characters, or should I say fish?
- The deep-sea creatures that are characters in the story make it an educational read as well.
- A book with lots of potential for reading out loud to your child. The variety of emotions that are expressed lend themselves to a good amount of voice modulations and play-acting that one can do. This makes for wholesome bedtime entertainment for the family.
- The expressive illustrations by Axel Scheffler that perfectly complement the story. My son particularly likes the page showing the big, wicked, bio-luminescent (light-emitting) fish in the deep-sea with scary looks and sharp teeth.
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- Looking at the colourful illustrations in this book, I wonder why we are not able to produce such endearing stories with expressive illustrations for children in the regional languages of India. Though some of the new-age publishers are doing a good job, we need more of this kind. I recently read Makadigaram by Vizhiyan (in Tamil) and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, both on the same day. I could not help comparing them – Rs.30 with Rs.399, the colourless, verbose one versus the colourful expressive other. Is it because of lack of readers? Or is it because of lack of imagination? Or is it because of lack of publishers?
For endless hours of entertainment.