________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 20 . . . . June 9, 2000

cover I is for India.

Prodeepta Das.
London, UK: Frances Lincoln (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 1996.
32 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 0-7112-1101-9.

Subject Headings:
India-Juvenile literature.
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 9-12.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


Aa is for the Alphabet children learn at school. India has many languages each with its own alphabet. These village children are learning Oriya, the alphabet of Orissa. Their teacher writes out the first few letters on each child's slate and the children call out the letters as they go over them.

Bb is for Bullock cart, used for carrying people and goods along the city streets and the dusty tracks of the countryside. It has two big wooden wheels and is pulled by one or two bullocks. As roads improve and people start to travel by bus, car and motorcycle, bullock carts are being used more and more for transporting goods.

Born in India, Prodeepta Das studied at the University of Sussex before becoming first a civil servant, then a teacher and finally a freelance photographer. In an "Author's Note," he explains:

image excerpt:

"I come from Orissa, in Eastern India, and the words and images in this book reflect the India that I know and love. I hope they will inspire young people to go further and explore the colour, excitement and mystery of this great continent."

With just a few exceptions, each page of this photographic alphabet book focus on a single letter of the alphabet. Presented in upper and lower case, the letter is then used in a word which relates to India. In turn, that word is explained within a short paragraph which provides readers with information about some aspect of Indian life. As well, one of more full-colour photographs give visual meaning to the word. Careful "reading" of the photos will provide the book's users with information about India which goes beyond the brief text. In only one instance does the British origins of this alphabet book intrude, and that happening occurs with "C" which is for "Cinema," North America's movie theaters.

Obviously not intended to teach the alphabet, I is for India also is not meant to present a comprehensive examination of the country of India. Instead, the book's photos and text could stimulate young readers to pursue further information about topics raised by one of the "letters." Additionally, social studies and language arts teachers could use the book as a model for across-the-curriculum projects such as "C is for Canada" or W is for Winnipeg."


Dd is for David (Jenkinson) who teaches children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364