Friday, January 11, 2019

Review - Mina vs. the Monsoon

Mina vs. the Monsoon
by Rukhsanna Guidroz
illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta
Date: 2018
Publisher: Yali Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 38
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Mina loves to play soccer all year around. Nothing comes close to it. But when the monsoon arrives, Mina is stuck indoors and she can’t help feeling restless and bored. Her ammi doesn’t understand. The doodhwalla doesn’t understand. That’s when Mina decides she’ll find ways of chasing away the clouds herself. In doing so, she makes an unexpected discovery. Soccer will never be the same again for Mina!

In a charming story that any kid who loves a sport will relate to, soccer-mad Mina tries just about any trick to stop the monsoon clouds from raining on her game. In doing so, she shows us glimpses of her life in a village in eastern India, highlighting the important role played by monsoon rains in this part of the world. The heart of the story, however, is the bond forged between a mother and her daughter on a gray, gloomy day.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I thought this story was going to go in a completely different direction... and I'm not sure I like how it ultimately ended.

Mina is a girl who is completely obsessed with soccer. When the rain comes, her mother doesn't want her to go outside and play in it, saying she'll catch a cold. She offers chai and samosas instead... which I would've accepted gladly. (Forget the stupid soccer!) While Mina is waiting for the rain to go away, she tries to come up with ways to chase away the monsoon: playing the tabla, doing her version of a reverse rain dance, trying a magic trick, and stringing a flower garland (her mother's suggestion). I thought that Mina would eventually discover that there were plenty of other things to do while she waited for the rain to pass... but the story went in a totally different direction. When she goes to get the thread for the flower garland, she finds her mother's old soccer jersey. Turns out, her mother used to play, and she used to always catch a cold in the rain (which explains her protectiveness of Mina now). Eventually, the rain stops, and Mina thinks her magic trick worked. Then she has the supposedly great idea for her and her mother to play soccer and just get under shelter if the rain starts again (which seems like a no-brainer, but whatever). So, in a cute scene, mother and daughter play soccer together in the mud. Then the book abruptly ends.

The illustrations are different. They're very colourful, and the expressions are interesting, but I have a feeling they're not going to appeal to everyone. The sense of place, however, is well done, and I really felt like I was reading a story set in India (and not just someone's idea of a story set in India).

So, overall, this was just okay for me. It will probably appeal more to kids who are really passionate about sports, especially soccer. I was never really a fan, so I had a bit of a hard time relating to Mina's obsession.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.17 out of 5

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