When Bholu Came Back

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REVIEW

When Bholu Came Back

By : Harini Gopalswami Srinivasan  /  2017

When Bholu Came Back

when-bholu-came-back-english.jpg
When Bholu Came Back
Author:
Kavitha Punniyamurthi
Illustrator:
Niloufer Wadia
24 pages
English
Rs 150.00
ISBN: 978-9350467930
Tulika Publishers, 
2016
Tags : 
Camel,
Camel Cart,
Desert,
Friendship,
Rajasthan,
Tourists,
Overall Rating : 
8
Story/Content : 
4
Illustration : 
4
Language : 
4
Design : 
4

Bholu is a camel with heart, energy, ideas, and a never-say-die attitude. When Bholu Came Back is a simple story, simply told, of how the dwindling fortunes of a camel carter, Beni Ram, are restored by his gallant vahana, Bholu, even though no one wants to use a camel cart anymore. While Beni Ram sees the writing on the wall, Bholu sees the potential of the tourist market, and decides to give it his best shot. With his charming leer, he gallops away from camel buyers, throws out lures to tourists, dances for them, and generally makes an exhibition of himself – in the nicest possible way, of course.

Kavitha Punniyamurthi spins a joyful story, lightly sprinkled with friendship and courage. Bholu’s love for his master and his determination to keep him going are heartwarming. Without hammering the point home, the story suggests that there is always a way forward when things look bleak. But one must be prepared to adapt to change and look for new opportunities.

The artwork by Niloufer Wadia is eye-catching and the book design is very attractive, with its predominant palette of reds and yellows and its background of traditional patterns on every page. What’s more, the book’s landscape format makes it just right for little hands to hold. However, on some pages, the background does slightly overpower the printed text, which may make it difficult for very young (or, as in my case, getting on in years) readers to read.

Between the desert folk and the tourists, the illustrations span two very different worlds. In a departure from the usual desi look of most of Tulika’s picture books, the characters and settings here are more reminiscent of the Arabian Nights than of Rajasthan. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case, it seems to have reduced the characters to caricatures. This is true of the writing as well: the people just don’t come to life. Why, for instance, does the little girl remain nameless? Why does the camel buyer (the one whom Bholu runs away from) look identical to the tour operator, Mr. Taparia? There is nothing distinctive about any of the characters, even Beni Ram. You recognize them by their colourful turbans, and not by what they say or do.

However, these are minor quibbles, and I doubt if any of it will worry your child. With its bright appeal, this is the sort of picture book that one can imagine will become the instant favourite of a five-year-old. One that has to be read aloud ritualistically every night, and then reread and reread till it is in tatters.

Harini Gopalswami Srinivasan is the author of The Smile of Vanuvati and Gind: The Magical Adventures of a Vanara. She has also written scripts for Amar Chitra Katha. An ardent farmer with not very green thumbs, she now spends much of her time learning how things grow.

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