NEELU AND THE PHENOMENAL PRINTER
By Riddhi Dastidar. Illustrated by Anupam Arunachalam
Pratham Books, 2019, pp. 20, R45.00
PINTU KO KAISE MILA PAI (How Pintu Found Pi)
By Sarat Talluri Rao. Translated by Nagraj Rao. Illustrated by Aratrika Choudhury
Pratham Books, 2019, pp. 20, R50.00
Level 4 Books
Neelu and her Miru Mashi go out to explore the city and come across sick horses pulling carriages, which gives Miru Mashi a reason to explain how prosthetics and artificial limbs work. Neelu and the Phenomenal Printer explains the complicated technology of three dimensional printing in a very simple and easy to understand manner. Not only is this book informative within the narrative, but it also gives real world examples like that of a mouse who was able to have baby mice thanks to 3D-printed ovaries in the USA or Grecia, the Toucan in Costa Rica who now has a 3D-printed beak. These examples really make the reader more aware of the practical applications of a technology, which otherwise seem to be mere fancy words on paper.
This book can inculcate a sense of love and respect for all the unique species around us and is perfect for children who love animals. The sheer variety of animals mentioned and beautifully illustrated in the book, ranging from common animals like horses to sloths (which most people don’t even know of in India), makes the book very interesting to read and flip through. In fact, reading this makes one want to go out and spend some time with wildlife.
Colours are missing from the illustrations, which could have made the animals even more eye catching but the images in the book are wholesome despite that. The book mentions two professions that might inspire children to work with fauna, that of a wildlife conservationist and a veterinarian. Even designers who work with 3D printing are shown which might spark curiosity in a child. All in all, this is a fun and educational book for children which can simultaneously teach the kids empathy and care giving as well.
Pintu Ko Kaise Mila Pai is a children’s storybook on the surface but just two pages in, one realizes that it is actually teaching mathematical concepts. To be specific, Pintu is learning geometry from a teacher named Ahmad and he learns how to use a compass and how to identify and measure different parts of a circle like radius, diameter and circumference. Learning about this leads to Pintu finding out about Pi and its ubiquitous presence all around us.
The book takes one on a journey with Pintu, learning the basics of geometry and Pi. The illustrations are all encompassing within the storyline and immersive in their presence, but sometimes, the text gets lost within the background colour on a few pages, making it a little hard to read. Apart from maths, Pintu also describes the experience of being new at school and having no friends for company. Everyone has been in this position at some point of time and can relate to his loneliness and desire for friendship. It is beautiful to see that Pintu feels like an outsider at first but he later makes friends by sharing what he has learnt with his classmates.
One major drawback of the book is that the author is unable to explain a concept that has been included in the book. Apparently, one can calculate the value of Pi using a ‘Dartboard Method’ and even though Pintu understands and uses this technique, it has neither been explained, nor is it clear to the reader. In fact, any person reading the last page of the story is bound to get confused and will have to look at other sources to understand this concept, mentioned so casually by the author.
Overall, the book is compelling and it will definitely generate an interest in mathematics, especially when kids see how geometry surrounds them and how maths is not just numbers on paper but that this subject is needed to understand nature and human innovations alike.
Both the Level 4 books are educational in an entertaining way and deal with concepts of maths and science in a manner that would intrigue a child and encourage them to look at the world with curious eyes.
Ilika Trivedi is a student of Human Rights in Jamia Millia Islamia.