Ken Spillman
Manjari Chakravarti
age group: 
5+ yrs
Number of pages: 
Tulika Books
clumsy butterfingers


Somehow the little girl always seemed to invite disaster - food dropped on her clothes, milk spilt from the tumbler and things just seemed to wobble, tumble and shatter. So much so, that her soon her own name was relegated to some distant memory. She was either, Clumsy, Slowcoach, Careless, Sloppy, Messy or Butterfingers. As the derogatory terms piled up on her, confidence also slowly began to wane and her sense of self eroded. She began to retreat to a safe world; a world of books and art.

And then one day, when her grandmother gave her a colouring set, she walked through the portals of her reality into a magical world of colour. There she was in control, she could create beautiful pictures and swirls of colours expressing her emotions and feelings through pictures, instead of words. As she drew, she began to heal and her world seemed to become whole again.

Beautiful illustrations in soft pastel colours, effectively capture the mood of the book and feelings of the child.

Although meant for children, this book could also be a wake-up call for adults, who often do not realize the damage they are doing to children by their unthinking words and behavior. “Are you stupid, or what?” A parent or teacher may yell at a child who is struggling to comprehend a topic, thus attaching a label that others may pick-up and use, and worse, often gets internalised, causing far greater damage to a child’s sense of self and confidence.

The book also highlights the importance of allowing a child to express themselves freely in art. Art is often used as a therapy for emotionally disturbed children as it helps them to cope with emotional issues by expressing their suppressed emotions on paper, either through drawing or colours, thus playing an important part in helping children vent their feelings and be able to cope with situations.

A timely reminder to parents and teachers alike to be mindful of the impact that their words and actions can have on a child.
A must read by young and old! 

Reviewed by Shamim Padamsee