Wednesday, March 25, 2009


In this day and age, when children would rather play computer games and game boy, it is difficult to find an alternative that would hold them spell bound for hours. So it is in this context that I trawled through some recent children’s books and came across a book that had been published last year. Like any other plebian, I judge a book by its cover and the cover was nice, bright and attractive. The book was a collection of stories for children and was called MilkRice – another catchy title, I thought, that gave no indication of what was inside the book, but was still Sri Lankan enough to say a lot.
There are nine stories that cover a range of situations. Instead of repeating each and every story, to fill space let me tell you what I liked.
I liked that all the stories were imaginative, Sri Lankan (I liked that part a lot actually), short, simple and easy to read. The target audience would be I think around 9 years old, perhaps a parent could read it to a 5 year old. Anyway, I also liked that some big names had got together to write stories for children. Authors like Faith Ratnayake, Neluka Silva, Lal Medawattegedera and Premini Amerasinghe, had contributed. I loved the little drawings that accompanied each story, giving it a Sri Lankan touch. I also liked that the stories would give the Sri Lankan child a vehicle to identify what it is like to grow up in Sri Lanka, rather than for them to read stories set in the West and for them to read about valleys and dales, crumpets and jam, rosy cheeks and ski holidays.
I liked that all the stories had a moral, some subtle some not so subtle. For instance, there were stories that spoke about being humane to animals, another story was about bullying. Two stories were about fabulous imagination, another two stories were about difference and how it should not matter to us, and one story about child soldiers. The most sophisticated story was about the child soldiers, the most imaginative story was the one about hats. The story my nephews and nieces loved was the one about the cat, rat and snake. And the story that my little cousin adored having read to her was the one about the aeroplane. All this goes to show that this is a little gem of a collection for Sri Lankan kids. Something about ten years ago, children didn’t have. A book of stories to call their own.

1 comment:

  1. Nice, thanks for the review :)
    I just commented on another of your posts that I still enjoy reading children's books.
    Though, books infused with modern values are kind of silly, I think.