Why Can’t Elephants be Red? by Vani Tripathi Tikoo (Perky Parrot, Niyogi books) gives us a glimpse into the mind of a lively and chirpy toddler who lives in a joint family set up in Singapore. The little girl, Akku, represents the children of today, who have far more exposure and understanding than kids of earlier generations.
The sense of being cocooned and loved in a big joint family is brought out in the book where each family member is a delight for Akku. She has her own unique bond with all of them. The story is narrated by the two and half year old herself as she describes the varied activities that she indulges in. Right from feeding fishes, to splashing in the pool, to doing artwork, making new friends in the building and relishing time with grandparents, uncle and aunt and cousins…the book captures a toddlers life from her own point of view.
As I read the book, I also felt that there was a subtle hint here for parents as well. For instance, the running story behind the title- why can’t elephants be red, actually has a deeper meaning behind it. It tells the tale of a young boy, who in a art class, wondered why his teacher did not accept his drawing of a red elephant. After all, elephants may be grey, but HIS elephant was red! As if by cue, all the other children in the class insisted that their elephants also be a of colours they wanted. This can be seen as a cry for freedom of expression, away from the narrow focus that many of our educational practices tend to take.
The illustrations by Rupal Neogy bring vibrancy and reinforce the content. Children above 6-7 years will be able to read the book on their own, and for younger children, using the pictures as a guide and providing a gist of the content while telling the tale would work best!