A Book Review and a Fun Ride

Bim and the Town of Falling Fruit

A big part I love about Little Kulture is to do book reviews. Give unsolicited advice to parents about books they can gift their kids is kind of my forte. What is it about book reviews that excite me? An engaging book is worth its weight in gold. The simple act of providing a book to a child has several favourable results. They get more comfortable with words, they grapple with new ideas and they soar where the imagination of the author takes them and some. The fact is reading is a life skill and if nurtured steadily it gives the child real skills to navigate the world. It also gives them a safe space to play what-ifs and find comfort when in doubt.

This can only mean that the child will thrive on a varied diet. Comics, graphic novels, newspapers, picture books, novels, and the print on shampoo bottles. Allowing the child to read anything that is age-appropriate in different forms is truly a gift you can give a child. Eventually, children who read about different things will read for pleasure and for work quite easily. As parents and caregivers, all we have to do is encourage them and slyly leave books about them. If we are keen they read something we want to it should be coupled with something they want to try reading. This sort of reading collaboration can be very satisfying and helps build real trust.

Today I am sharing a review of the book Bim and the Town of Falling Fruit by Arjun Talwar. This is a light, fun book that is quite nuanced

A tropical little town, a boy and his taxi-driving mother, unusual visiting grand-parents, colorful town inhabitants, bats, falling fruit, and town landmarks that have special significance for its citizens form the backdrop for the story by Arjun Talwar.

The joy of reading this book goes beyond its storyline. The author skillfully captures the essence of small-town life with his description of places, objects, and routines. 

Our hero Bim is our eyes as we learn more about small-town Poondy where the ripe jackfruits and coconuts fall. If your expectations from this book are a linear storyline that purposefully goes from event to event, keeps them aside. Instead, sit back and enjoy the ride, as if you were drunk with the over-ripe fruits. All the falling fruit determine how the townsfolk live, their festivals, and their diet.

Bim and his mother Chitti have just a few weeks before they leave Poondy for a larger city because pretty landscapes do not a stomach fill. Bim’s mother is brave, strong, and stereotype destroyer. She loves cars and knows all about them. She fends for Bim and herself and believes she is the maker of her own destiny. This busy single parent keeps an eye on her child but is never intrusive. 

As the time to leave comes closer Bim quite inadvertently ends up having a few adventures. A bike, many bats, a wise man, and a barber detective become important anchors to take the story forward. 

I loved that the people of Poondy lived with animals as they would with other humans. Eventually, they do something special for their mammal friends thanks to Bim. 

The book will resonate strongly with young readers who often vacation in villages or towns, far from their bustling metropolis. Here time has come to standstill and there are no to-do lists but do- as- you- go- along with the day lists. Children who do not have this experience will revel in learning about a totally different way of life led by someone near their age.

In the midst of a pandemic a vision of the beach, of banyan trees, of fruit-laden trees, of lost tourists and tourists who want to visit the must-see spots, school children in the streets, grandparents, toddy drinking and singing patrons seem like an unreal dream and harkens to a time that has fast sped away but hopefully not forever.

Author Arjun Talwar weaves words that capture the goings on of the beach town where the tourists come and go often unaware of the daily coming and going of the citizens who inhabit it. The illustrations by Shilpa Ranade capture the gentle meandering mood of the book.

This book is great fun. It is a vacation and an adventure rolled into one for 10 to 14-year-olds minus the ubiquitous mask and sanitizer as they stay away from school, classmates.

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Bim and the Town of Falling Fruit