Have you met the ‘Ghost of Fire’?
The most fascinating thing about children's books is the visual aspect of it. The colourful, vivid pictures with few lines and the manner in which it is crafted to tell a tale in a very short time makes it a great read for everyone.
I recently got my hands on a special book by Mayurpankhi Publishers, Bhooter Agun (fiery ghost or ghost of fire)—a short book for very young readers. As soon as I asked my three-year-old if she was interested in reading it, she nodded and made me read the same book several times to the point I had to hide it from her. Both of us loved the illustrations and the story itself. The pages had an amazing array of colours used and the plot had a twist of mystery.
The book tells a very simple story of a boy named Ong who belongs to an exotic land. Ong has a curious mind; he uses his binoculars every day to stare into the wilds and one day discovers something blazing in the dark. Scared, he immediately goes to his sister and calls her to see what he saw: things glowing in the dark! As Ong's elder sister Mingcha investigates, she tells Ong to tag along as they venture out to look at it together. When they visit the place in question, Ong asks if these were glowing birds, and that's when Mingcha introduces them as 'fireflies'.
Released in February this year, Bhooter Agun is one of Mayurpankhi's newest releases. Mayurpankhi specialises in publishing children's books and their practice to give due credit to their writers and creative artists is noteworthy. The creative minds behind this particular work of art are Farzana Tannee who crafted the narrative and Lamia Azad and Shamim Ahmed who did the illustrations and made justice to the narrative. The book is not only a treat to the eyes, but also a treat to hold. My three-year-old daughter loves reading this book every time she lays her eyes on them and as a bookworm, nothing excites me more.
The most interesting and captivating fact for me as a reader was to be able to acquaint my daughter to a diverse and beautiful community. When I first introduced Ong and Mingcha to her, she struggled with the names a bit. These were not very common names for her (considering she is at a point in her life, where she is learning a whole lot of vocabulary every day!) but the way she pronounces Ong fills my heart with pure joy. Given the background of the main characters, Bhooter Agun has a diverse narrative and depicts a world of diverging cultures, traditions, customs, and practices. The art of storytelling involves weaving words together to produce vivid and convincing experiences that define a community. It gives all of us a sense of commonality and community and Bhooter Agun does exactly that!
I keep coming back to praising the illustrations, but this particular children's book has a blend of so many colours that there were times I wished I had a tapestry of the same pattern and images. All the artworks were relevant to the story and made it more comprehensible. I could easily point to the images and tell her the story without missing a beat.
I love to hoard a lot of books, and I love children's books. It's easy on your mind and eyes, and you feel a warm sensation in your heart. The books I received as prizes or gifts in my childhood are still one of my greatest treasures. Thanks to my toddler, I now have a renewed excuse to buy and collect children's books. One of the greatest things about these very young children's books for adults is that they help you transition out of a reader's block. After all, Bhooter Agun helped me bond with my daughter, instil further in her a love for books, and even delighted the reader in me.
Salwah Chowdhury works at an NGO by the day and works for her toddler at night. In between she is trying to be the writer she always wanted to be. Please reach her at [email protected] or @salwah_chowdhury (IG) for any book recommendations.