Multilingual and Interactive

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FROM THE BOOK REVIEW ARCHIVES

Multilingual and Interactive

By : Nivedita Subramaniam
I Am Different

I Am Different

Author:
Manjula Padmanabhan
Illustrator:
Manjula Padmanabhan
Tulika Publishers, 
2011

Manjula Padmanabhan’s I Am Different moves beyond the conventional ‘spot the odd one out’ brain teaser. There are no stock imitations of images or exact pairs to be found on any page. While there is the excitement of finding out which one is unique, it is the celebration of difference itself which is central.

‘The book isn’t a collection of bland puzzles,’ says the author who is also its illustrator. ‘I would like to encourage the viewer to realize that they are many ways of being different.’ So while there is an answer key to refer to, a little text at the end of the book invites children to write in if they have ‘DIFFERENT correct answers’!

The different scripts used in the book—are not merely the same sentence, ‘Can You Find Me?’ in sixteen different tongues but also pictures to look at and enjoy. A pronunciation guide for teachers and parents draws attention to the sound and feel of words, how listening to other languages and reading out aloud can create an imaginative context for discussing the familiar and the new.

The very first puzzle, the hands that adorn the back and front cover is perhaps the most articulate expression of what an interactive space can do for children. Be it cats or cars, kites or keys, the unusual artwork make the everyday dramatic and mobile. The psychedelic meets the earthy; olive greens court peachy pinks—the common becomes uncommon. The squiggles that roam freely throughout the book, from sparkling stars to swimming fish mime a childlike love for colour and paint. Handmade textures, at times subtle and at times stark elevate both text and image making them visually charged.

I Am Different is complete in itself as an assortment of puzzles to decipher and open-ended in its creative approach encouraging children to discover colours, forms and worlds outside the text—keeping the paint still fresh on its palette.

Niveditha Subramanian  studies German and dabbles in photography when she is not reading picture books.