Book Review: Watch Out

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I have a curious obsession with language. We are Bengalis and most of our conversation at home is in Bangla. Most of our books are in English. When it comes to V and his books, I read them to him in English and translate it with words he is familiar with. As V grows up I know Bangla will recede into the background. Much like it is for us. And English will become his first language too. You can read a previous post to know better.

So when I found this delightful bilingual book from Tulika Books, I grabbed it.

Watch Out is a beautifully illustrated, action-packed book about three baby lions. One morning their mother sets off to get her baby lions food. While she is away the baby lions decide to play. And in their innocent play they encounter some very dangerous animals. From an eagle that threatens to scoop them away, to a crocodile that crawls towards them at the watering hole, the porcupine scares them unknowingly and a wicked hyena that growls at them menacingly…life without mommy lion is difficult and unknown. Like with every other nice story, mommy lion returns right on time to defend her babies. She roars back at the hyena, sending him running back to his pack.

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V has a set of wooden animals. So while we were reading I decided to bring out his crocodile. He made an instant connect and in his baby language all right said, “Crocodile is here, run away!”

Watch Out is written by Shamim Padamsee. A grandmother of four, she is passionate about wildlife and has written children’s literature. Most of the text contains action words like, “Let’s play”, “Let’s pounce”, “Let’s drink” or “Let’s roll”…making children instantly connect with the histrionics of these playful cubs. But the jungle is not a safe place. The animals come for the cubs but the text doesn’t namr them. Elsewhere in the book (on the inside covers actually) the animals are drawn with their names im English and Hindi.

For V it’s his first exposure to some of the animals. The Eagle (since his understanding of birds extends only to the harmless pigeon) and the Porcupine (I am trying to make him understand the existence of an animal with prickly thorns) to be precise. What’s a revelation for me are the Hindi names of some of these animals. For the longest time I thought a crocodile in Hindi is called magarmach, well it is also called ghadiyaal. Thanks to the book I know that a porcupine is called Saahi in Hindi. See, there’s something we learn everyday. 🙂

Watch Out is a bilingual book from the house of Tulika Books available in a combination of different Indian languages with English being a common language.  But I discovered this only when I checked the book on their site.

Ajanta Guhathakurta and her beautiful illustrations for children’s books is well established.  I particularly loved the three cubs…with bright and naughty eyes, that’s how kids are, no matter which species. I also liked the double page silhouette illustration of dusk.

Do you read bilingual books to your kids? Tulika Books recommends Watch Out for 2 year olds. Mine enjoyed it.

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