My neice who is around five, got what I thought was a fabulous present for a book. I am still not sure where it's available or how much it cost, but I am sure bookshops like Odel and Barefoot will have it.
One of the problems I have about Sri Lankan books for children is that either they are boring or they are badly done. The writing is bad, the illustrations are bad and there are so many mediocre books around, you wonder how parents can buy any of it for their kids. There are exceptions of course, I have seen a few nicely done children's books, one of my earlier reviews was on MilkRice that still remains my favourite present for kids. But the general rule is that children's books need to improve here in Sri Lanka.
Now this book looks expensive and I presume it is expensive. This makes me wonder how many people would pick it up for their kids. But as the saying goes: Good things no cheap; cheap things no good. But the book looks good that much is obvious.
This book is primarily for little children and an older child of 5-6 might like to look at it on his own. But best of all, it seems to be a good introduction to the English, Sinhala and Tamil languages. Yes, you read that right. Keerthihan's Kite is a trilingual book for children.
I have not heard of the author or illustrator: Sandi Titus and Anura Srinath respectively, but one name I recognized in the credits is Michael Meyler (who brought out that most entertaining book, Dictionary of Sri Lankan English).
The story is rather simple. Keerthihan, a little boy who lives in Jaffna, wants to fly his own kite, like the big boys around. He decides to make his own kite and after a series of disasters, he eventually makes a kite that can fly.
Each page has only one sentence written out in all three languages. Sometimes the first sentence is written in English but not always. Sinhala and Tamil, also have their turn at being on top. The rest of the page is devoted to brightly coloured illustrations that make the page very attractive.
Towards the back of the page, you have an interesting feature. There is a transliteration of Sinhala and Tamil in English. This is of course not going to help you to learn the Sinhala and Tamil script but it is certainly a first step to start learning any of the other two languages. It is excellent for Sinhala and Tamil readers to learn English as well.
Right at the very end of the book is a DVD that has the narration of the book in all three languages, with basic animation of the illustrations found in the book. I thought it was very very nicely done.
To my mind, perhaps a few parents will see the value of this book and pick it up for their children but more importantly it is a book that schools and libraries should be forced to buy, if they don't happen to see its worth straight away.
In this day and age when we know it is so important to learn all three languages of Sri Lanka, it is a good start to see a book like this in the market. I hope more trilingual books will be produced in the future.