THE world of imagination can be infectious and nothing says it better than Sowmya Rajendran's delightful book, 'School is Cool'. A little girl is getting ready to head to school and for a brief, magical moment, we see the quotidian of everyday life shed its drab clothes for a colourful, wonderfully unexpected metamorphosis. So a blue bedspread becomes the ocean, elephants pay you a visit when on the potty, the toothbrush is your loyal crusader against early morning germs, and playful eggs carry an important message!
What works is Rajendran's narrative. It has none of the obvious, deliberate quality of most children's books. Instead, it speaks to the child as an equal, with a naturalness that feels most fitting. The author takes the reader quite firmly into the story with a decisive 'I', almost as if she is conscious of the fact that this 'I' could be anyone, not necessarily a child. And there is something oddly comforting about the fact the story begins with a dream.
The crux of the story, however, is the quiet interaction the protagonist has with her grandmother at the breakfast table - that there are many children who go to school for the chance of enjoying a midday meal. It drives home the fact that education is a privilege, an important one at that. And well, that's 'cool'!
Kanchon Mitra's illustrations capture this vivid world with the apparent ease of a potter at his wheel. It's filled with so much life and energy, that you almost miss charming little details like the girl's broken tooth, the grandmother's mischievous wink, the fuzzy tiger's paw and the nervous expressions of the germs.
Though the book says it is for 3+ readers, I would recommend this to 5+ readers, because the nuances presented here are so varied that it would probably appeal more to a five-year-old mind. Or for that matter (like in my case), your own.
This book is also available in: Hindi, Marathi, Gujrati, Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, Malyalam, Kannada.