I read children's books once in a while. It is my way to keep that child alive inside me. Children's books have a touch of innocence and simplicity, which goes for a toss in books for the grown-up. It was one of the primary reasons to pick up Leatherback and The Strange Place by Shubhra Shah.
But before I could read it, my 11-year-old nephew Aarav was quick to grab the opportunity. Later he told me that tortoise on the book cover intrigued him. He has two pet tortoises - Tango and Charlie. So the prospect of some adventure stored in the book excited him.
The story goes something like this. Four pets - Leatherback the tortoise, Queenie the cat, Loro the parrot, and Hedgy the guinea pig sets on an adventurous mission. They want to find out who kidnapped Lolita. She is the mother of Sara and Neel, the per owners of Queenie and Loro.
The author has put special effort into plotting. You will embark on a new adventure in each chapter. Each different from another with many sub-stories, emulsifying seamlessly with the main story. It was both amusing and amazing to read.
Books could be a great medium for parents to teach children or convey them any message. Of course, if they are readers. When lessons come through a book, they leave an impact, whereas ignored conveniently as preaching when conveyed directly by parents. Leatherback and The Strange Place is perfect to serve that purpose.
The story's narrator Leatherback analyses the human world with a child's eyes. Leatherback talks about misunderstanding in relationship, coming out of your comfort zone, standing up for weaker one and many more. Everything blends effortlessly. It is like imparting messages and values in a fun way.
Loro the parrot was the singer in the story. He sang many songs. The rhyming poems were a joy to read. They were humorous, inspiring, and emotional.
While the non-human characters were adorable, the human characters were real with real problems. The story made me realize the importance of a jovial atmosphere at home, crucial for the child's development and growth.
There are fun activities included in the book like, coloring pages, crossword, find the differences, word games, etc. I wish those were removable pages because both my son and nephew are keen to do them. And in doing so, they will color the whole book.
The mystery and suspense kept my nephew glued to the book. He enjoyed reading the snake episode. But the story of Ulusa the owl touched him the most. He connected a few dots there and could relate to the story. The message of listening to your parents was not lost on him. He was also excited to learn new words and fun facts about animals. According to him, this was the first book where he didn’t have to consult the dictionary. The difficult words came with meaning.
The author has been thoughtful about the format of the book. It is so much more than just a storybook. The book is a perfect reality checker for parents and teaching tool for the children.
It deals with real problems and real emotions. Something with which you would relate. I would highly recommend it.
It is a must read.