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Pops by Balaji Venkataramanan

 “The thing is, I have never met my dad. I have never seen him except in the wedding album that Mom had shown me. He left us as soon as I was born”.


This is the story of seven-year-old Arun. And, how he meets his dad. Can an absence of seven years be explained? How does a child deal with the aftermath of separation, in this case, the sudden appearance of a man he never knew in the first place?

 If you expect this to be a sad toned tale, you’re wrong! Packed with humour but with a lot of sensitivity, Pops by Balaji Venkataramanan cruises the difficult terrain of writing stories that connect with and resonate with young readers today.


We perceive divorce or separation between parents as devastating, which it is for the parties involved and the children as well. However, this book looks at the situation realistically from a child’s perspective, as the child recounts meeting his dad (thanks to a court order) for the first time in his life. Does he grow to like him? Do they ever connect?


What I like about Pops is that it does not moralise or preach, and it adds a kind of normalcy to what is otherwise a difficult and maybe even painful situation. The language is absolutely straightforward and simple. As an adult reader, I felt as if I was reading the book exactly from the point of view of the child. Kudos to the writer and his sensitivity!


I like the subtle take on illustrations by Twiggy. Each page has a tiny stamp sized illustration on the bottom that gives a quick glimpse into what’s going on the page in the story at the moment. The cover design by Ayushi Saxena also aptly captures the mood of the story.


Pops by is sensitively written, honest to the core and yet not depressing at all. In fact, it is laced with subtle touches of humour.


As a publishing house, Duckbill  has never shied away from stories that talk about difficult but relevant and relatable situations for modern children, whose lives are quite different from what their parents’ childhoods used to be. Pops is clearly one more feather in the Duckbill cap!


Title: Pops

Author: Balaji Venkataramanan

Publisher: Duckbill

Genre: Fiction

Age group: 7 onwards

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.