Ranganna has to be one of the coolest elephant names in the world. Do you ever miss stories that have no “larger” message? Did you ever read or watch something just for the sheer loveliness of it and not wonder what it all meant, in the end? If you’re answering “yes” to these questions, Ranganna is your story. He’s an adorable, cuddly, blue elephant. Yes, blue, with bright pink bubble gum cheeks. Kavita Singh Kale’s art work looks like it’s from a classic Indian children’s book or comic from the eighties. It’s unpretentious, beautifully imperfect and completely relatable. Everyone in this book is your neighbor, or friend, or relative. The geography is a particular one, to be sure, with very specific markers; but it is comfortable and familiar without being strident.
Ranganna lives happily and incongruously, near a dhobi ghat, the great Indian site of epic washing and laundering. He is a happy elephant, and he loves colors and soap bubbles. He’s well adjusted, has many friends and no real crisis of self. Ranganna’s greatest joy is to be surrounded by color. He sees it everywhere; in the swathes of clothes that hang around the ghat, in flowers and bangles, rainbows and temples.
Even the friendliest elephant must have some special friends, and Ranganna’s two dearest friends are two lovely girls- Anushka and Aditi, who visit Ranganna every day- bringing him fruit and they spend happy hours together only as very good friends can. Arthi Anand Navaneeth tells the rest of this story with just the kind of giggly excitement and joy that are so unique to children. Spearheading an aesthetic revolution, Ranganna gets his nails painted, in every imaginable color. You also learn that elephants have eighteen toe nails, which is just the sort of obscure thing any good story should tell you; and also, all children should know that having your nails painted is really, really fun. This story is full of light and color just like its characters- you’ll probably love it as much as the kids will.
Anjana Raghavan is a social science researcher based in Chennai. She loves stories and music - children's books and fantasy literature are her particular favourites. When she's not working, cooking and blowing soap bubbles are her favorite things to do.