Monday, January 27, 2020

Review - Thukpa for All

Thukpa for All
by Praba Ram & Sheela Preuitt
illustrated by Shilpa Ranade
Date: 2018
Publisher: Karadi Tales
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 38
Format: e-book
Source: library

Tsering can’t wait to taste his grandmother’s delicious noodle soup. He invites a string of friends and neighbours home. But as preparations get underway, there is a power cut and the house is plunged into darkness. Will Abi be able to put together the much-anticipated thukpa? Told from a blind child’s perspective, this tale by Praba Ram and Sheela Preuitt is accompanied by Shilpa Ranade’s stunning illustrations.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Thukpa for All seems a little bit like a folk tale, in the tradition of stories like "Stone Soup" or modern picture books like Oge Mora's Thank You, Omu! Set in India, it tells the story of a little blind boy and a dinner invitation that brings the whole community together.

Tsering is on his way home, looking forward to his grandmother's thukpa (noodle soup). As he encounters various people, he invites them home to share the meal. Eventually, it's a big party, but it's okay because each guest brings a contribution for the meal. But then the power goes out! How will Abi see to be able to cook the thukpa?

I really like the premise of this. And I like seeing a child with a disability featured in a role that highlights his skills and contributions. The setting is interesting, too; I don't think I've read any picture books set in the Ladakh region of India before. The way the story is structured works well, too; it reminds me of "Stone Soup" and its variations (although the overall message is different). The choice to make Tsering blind is interesting, and I really enjoyed the onomatopoeia that was included as a way of highlighting one of the senses that he does have.

Unfortunately, the book suffers from a couple of problems that really affected my enjoyment. The first is the writing. The characters "speak" with silent actions such as smiling and handing over a basket of peas. It wasn't just a one-time occurrence, either, so I took off a few points for that. Also, the illustrations give the impression that this book could take place a long time ago. There's little in the way of modern technology. So when the power goes out, it's jarring. There aren't even any electrical wires to be seen, so I'm curious as to how Ami's house is powered. Solar panels? Then why would one of the characters make mention of a "power cut", as if it's something that happens regularly with the grid? The stove itself is simply a rectangular box. Drawing an electrical cord might have helped the illustrations look they actually belonged with the text. (There's also the matter of the stove having a chimney in one illustration but not the others. That's a continuity problem that should've been caught.)

For all that, though, this isn't a terrible book. I always like reading about children's experiences in different parts of the world. There's also a recipe in the back for thukpa, which sounds tasty. So I would recommend this one (especially if you're not as much of a stickler for good grammar as I am).

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 1/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 2.83 out of 5

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