Can a barely 20 page book, at first look almost a picture book, blow you away? Well Vinitha & Kripa ‘s new book “Be Careful Bappa” absolutely took my breath away!
Right away, on each page, it is three different levels of story telling – the incredible visual mixed media collages , the narrated story and the informative text. And then, there is the discovery , the nudge to go explore more, discuss , learn and grow
The story narrated perfectly for its primary audience, the child in a disarming innocence bringing not only the City’s love for its Bappa but embracing undauntedly every other hue of the city as the God passes through the neighbourhoods.
From the first unexpected, cautionary whisper, “Be Careful Bappa” in the story, we are vividly exposed to the crowded city, the self absorbed indifference, the noise , the pollution ,the dangers lurking in the crowds,still nestled in the care for the child’s Bappa as we trace the path to the visarjan in the sea .
The brilliant art presents kaleidoscopic images of the city , splashing and bringing to foreground, what would have been a quiet backdrop in the minds of the Mumbaikars.
The layer three, the informational text then elevates this book to a whole different level , making it a book for all ages.
So many threads to explore, from Shivaji to Tilak’s Sarvajanaik Ganesotsav, the industrialization and mill history of mumbai, the change from caste clustering to class distribution spatially , the celebrations that add to the air, noise and water pollution of a wheezing city to the subtler subtexts of safety in these crowds.
In a book brimming with visual and textual metaphors, it is strikingly non didactic. It simply presents a striking palimpsest, one that places all the new vistas, the old traditions and the changing landscape in the bustling, tireless commotion that is Mumbai and yet lovingly beckons the child to explore this montage.
My favourite line in this book is when the child aks Bappa , “Are you scared?” and reassures Him that his Aai is waiting for him. A city that is crazy ,irresponsible, busy and yet somehow always cares and reassures.
Be Careful, Bappa is the third in the City Mosaics series, a collaborative process between the People Place Project studio, talented artist Kripa and brilliant author Vinitha. It is indeed an essential read for children, our future citizens, to begin appreciating their city, its places and people, and its diversities .
An absolute must-have , I managed to get a lovely signed copy of the book from the lovely Kahani Tree.