I have an almost-9-year-old and a 3-year-old – both practically read the same books. The former out of virtue of knowing how to read and the latter by virtue of his drama skills. While the books the older one read last year included the entire ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series, among others, I always thought that though the issues children face at school are universal in nature, it would be great to have a ‘Diary of an Indian Wimpy Kid’; at least most issues would be close to home.Then, we came across the prolific Nandini Nayar’s, ‘Diary of an Indian School Girl’ and my son didn’t think twice before picking it up. He really liked it. And I liked it, too!
‘Laugh out Loud, Apoorva’ is the fourth book in the ‘Diary of an Indian School Girl’ series – ‘Apoorva’s Fat Diary’, ‘Meanie.Com’, and ‘Dear Aunty’ are the other titles in this series.
This series is about Apoorva, an obese girl with curly hair – both physical traits in a girl that get a thumbs-down from most people in the society. She maintains a diary from day one of the new academic year, and it’s downright hilarious.
In ‘LOL, Apoorva’, the protagonist, Apoorva, gets mocked by friends, as usual, for her weight and gait. From the first day of school, new students tease her, while her old friends stand by her! And that’s a very special part of this book – Apoorva’s best friend Avi and a few other friends support her, come what may – busting the myth that fat kids have few or no friends. Each chapter begins with an elephant or non-elephant joke and they are quite funny!
When the Principal announces the Annual day, most children are chosen for the respective roles based on their appearance and Apoorva is chosen to be a demon guard – someone who has to wear dull clothes and stand still as a statue with a spear in one hand, and absolutely no dialogues. While that is not what Apoorva imagined she would be, she still tried her best to look and be like one.
However, on D-day, things go awry and the performance goes south in a muddle of errors. But the errors are more like a ‘comedy of errors’ – the audience loves it and Apoorva becomes the star of the show. To know how it happens, you have to read the book!
Apoorva’s innate ability to laugh at others’ jokes about her and crack her own jokes (especially because her mother made her laugh for she thought it makes one lose weight) makes the subject of body shaming, name tagging, and bullying, light, and instills confidence in any child who can relate with Apoorva. That it’s important to laugh at yourself, that it’s important to accept yourself the way you are, that it’s important to understand that being overweight or not beautiful in the way the world defines beauty is absolutely okay, are messages that shine throughout the story! We have to be beautiful from the inside out and not the other way around.
As a reader, you feel for Apoorva but you don’t pity her in any way and the credit goes to the author for creating such a lovable character like Apoorva and narrating the story the way she did.
Lavanya Karthik’s fun, black & white illustrations, make the read all the more enjoyable and add to the hilarity quotient.