Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Unboy Boy

Author: Richa Jha
Illustrator: Gautam Benegal
Ages: 5+

I always used to admire Georgina, or George, one of Enid Blyton's Famous Five . With a boy cut and boy's gut and always up for adventure, she was breaking gender cliches long before they started to be talked strongly about. I also admire parents who try to thwart these gender barriers and simply let kids be kids, playing with anything they fancy - girly or boyish. But of course most of the boys would be mud bathing, stick-fight holding boys and girls would be pretty-in-pink girls and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all! Like the author Richa Jha says, there are no unboy boys or ungirl girls in the world. It is simply cool enough to be just the girl or boy that the child is!

Gagan is a gentle boy who loves nature, loves to explore nature, loves his teddy and stamp collection. He hates fighting games, harming even little ants, hates cape guns and battle stories. So he is promptly named "sissy", "scaredy cat", "chooha" by classmates and  made fun of. Even his Dadu tries hard to make him a Boy boy by getting him a cape gun. Only Mum understands how gentle and wonderfully kind he is and reassures him that he is perfect just the way he is and he makes her ever so proud.

All this continues until the class goes for a summer camp. Are the brave Boy boys really brave? Is gentle Gagan really a scaredy cat? All is unveiled in the last few pages of the book with a positive finishing note.

The illustrations are good and there is a part where the children peek into a dark staircase and imagine scary things, which has been done beautifully. Like all those exaggerated, vivid imaginary creatures and dark fears kids picture in their minds until the light is turned on! Reminded me of what kids talk about Prabhu's house in the "Anjali" movie. However, some parents may feel one or two illustrations look a bit scary, perhaps. Although I have to say they are not the gory type, just a little scary and very much aligned with the story line. :o)

Richa Jha writes @snuggle with picture books. I had previously written about her blog here. She has been kind enough to send us this beautiful book to read and review and the boys were so thrilled about it! Thank you so much Richa, we hope you continue to write more wonderful books in future!


  1. The Post sounds interesting Gomathy! it is quite hard isn't it to define what is ok and what is not. I wish ppl are less judgemental.. will see if I can find this book

    1. Agree with you, Roshni. Difficult to say what's okay and what's not.
      If you're in the UK, the book is available on; in India, they're now available at various bookshops across Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore and Goa. Plus online, on flipkart, and infibeam. I do hope you pick up a book; and do let me know once you'll have enjoyed it! :) Thanks and warm regards, Richa

    2. As long as they are being judgemental only about their own children, it is fine. Wouldn't interfere in that, but they dare interfere with mine, unless they want to see a fierce tigress in action!!! ;o)

      Recently, there was a post in mumsnet about Enid Blyton being so cliched and wrong - mums who cook and Dads who only work, bad toys being spanked, kids being punished etc and that they would never give her books to children. What is okay for some is certainly not so for someone else!!

  2. Thanks for lines after lines of yummy and flattering words, Gomathy; absolute music to my ears! :) I am thrilled to see that your boys have connected with the book. I'll share your review with Gautam too as he alone has created most of the visual magic on the pages. And with the designer, Kamal,who created the rest of the magic!
    An extra big hug from us as yours is the very first review of this book to be out, yay!
    And the next time, I'll try and make the book a little less scary, I promise! :)
    Warmly, Richa

    1. It was an honour, Richa and we still cannot believe we got such a wonderful opportunity! Even yesterday my boys were asking me how we got chosen by someone all the way across in Nigeria! Thank you once again and may your love for children's books long continue! Gautam and Kamal have done an excellent job, our special thanks to them as well. We so loved the chOOha drawing! :o)

    2. A pleasure and honour for me, Gomathy, to have these books that we have so lovingly created, being loved by booklovers like you and your boys! I too fell in love with the chooha the moment Gautam sent in the file - love at first sight styled love! :)

    3. And do let your boys know that we at SWPB can sniff a picture book lover snuggled with books in any corner of the world! :)