Your child can read a Perumal Murugan book!
posted by Shweta Sharan, September 18, 2020
Based on an incident taken from Perumal Murugan's outstanding novel, Poonachi, Lost in the Forest is a picture book that will elicit some stunning reactions and thoughts from your children!
I love it when literary giants like Mahasweta Devi, Ted Hughes, and George Saunders write books for children. I want my daughter to read every kind of writer possible! Great writers are so true to the quirky voices inside their heads that they are naturally suited to write children's books.
One book you must include on your list is Perumal Murugan's Poonachi, Lost in the Forest.
Now on any other day, if I told you that my daughter reads Perumal Murugan, you must wonder if she is a prodigy or if she is in college. But she is a little girl and she loved it - and I am talking about the picture book, of course! Yes, Poonachi is now turned into a picture book by Perumal Murugan and illustrated by Priya Kuriyan. This is such a dynamite combination. Both artists are unflinching and brave when it comes to their art.
This picture book is based on Perumal Murugan's Poonachi, Or the Story of a Black Goat, a novel book was the talk of the literary world when it was released, for two reasons. One, it was the book that followed Perumal Murugan's brush with controversy and his subsequent announcement to stop writing. Two, it stunned readers with its powerful, unconventional voice. It is an unbelievable feat to turn a book like that into a picture book.
Don't miss your child's reactions to this book!
As you all know, Perumal Murugan has a unique voice, one that challenges the status quo and really shakes you out of complacency. The novel, Poonachi, Or the Story of a Black Goat is about a goat named Poonachi, who travels through life from her childhood to adulthood and motherhood. The book is famous for reflecting on some important questions that we ask ourselves of our modern existence - our conformity to power structures and hierarchies, our fears and motivations, and of course, the burden of being different.
Poonachi, Lost in the Forest is a picture book for children that shows one small incident from the novel. It is when Poonachi, as she is lovingly referred to by the old lady who owns her, wakes up one morning and hears her friends, Oothan and Uzhumban, running towards the forest. Poonachi is upset with her friends when they cheat in a game of hide-and-seek. She walks away into the forest in a huff.
Here's where things get interesting. She finds the first night in the forest to be terrifying but the next morning, she realizes how beautiful the world looks from her vantage point. The pond is beautiful and magical. Poonachi thinks she can be happy and free in the forest because it can provide her with what she wants. Something makes her change her mind and head back to the safety of her family.
Photo by Westland Books
A remarkable adventure
So many things ran through our minds when we read this book. For one, don't we all want to travel the less conventional path and stay true to our beliefs? It is hard to stick up for your beliefs in this world. Do we need others to be happy? Do we need companionship to be happy? Why do we want to be with a 'herd?'
Can a child who reads Poonachi get a glimpse into the author's incredible mind? Maybe. I do know that the book is powerful and it makes a child think. My daughter said, "Poonachi loves being alone in the forest so why does she go back? She isn't scared!" Books like this hold a mirror to our child's soul. And the child will have some amazing answers to give that question!
Priya Kuriyan's illustrations, in red, white, and black, add to the mood of the book and its deep, mysterious core. The picture book's color palette draws inspiration from the cover of the book for adults.
We cannot recommend this book enough!