Friday, January 17, 2014

The Unboy Boy!

 Though as a generation, we have managed to challenge certain gender stereotypes, we’ve not been able completely break free from them and at times we do unknowingly tend to orient our kids towards perpetuating the same. For instance, though not overly concerned that my seven year old Abhay has never been the “outdoorsy” type from the beginning, I can’t say that I have never indulged in comparisons between Abhay and some of his male cousins who seem kinesthetically more active. Not sure if it’s his basic nature, conditioning or level of stamina, Abhay seems naturally drawn to drawing, books and legos rather than sports and other physically driven activities. While I am not complaining, I confess there have been times when I have been guilty of being insensitive with a “Why are you acting like a girl?” when Abhay obviously upset has shot back “Amma, I am a boy and always a boy”!! Touche my little one!:-)

So when author and blogger Richa Jha mailed me two of her recently released picture books around December last year, “The Unboy boy” truly resonated with Abhay! Apart from books on imaginary anthropomorphic characters slaying monsters or age old fables strung into a limerick or multi-cultural folk based stories, once in while you wish you could read something that features everyday situations or day-to-day issues that kids can easily relate to. “The Unboy boy” is one such book that not only does just that but also beautifully conveys a message without being too preachy. We loved the story and its narrative laced with underlying humour, the real-life like characters and their quirks and have read  the book many times over and each time there’s something new we discover in the illustration, almost as if it were a “look and find’ adventure of our own! Thanks Richa for this wonderful book!

 The Unboy boy” by Richa Jha and Gautam Benegal  brought out under the banner of is a delightful read about a boy named Gagan who unlike other boys preferred drawing and reading to fist fights and playing pranks, cared about ants when other boys gleefully stomped on them, took his teddy “Bingo” for the 'Show and Tell ' at class, or cried listening to grandpa’s battle and war stories – all this earned Gagan unenviable names like “Scaredy Cat", “Mousey”, “Baby girl” amongst his friends and even a “Chooha” (Hindi word for mouse) from his grandpa. Many attempted to ‘transform” Gagan from an Unboy boy to a Boy boy, but failed as Gagan was perfectly at ease with who he was, with occasional bad days when the teasing and name calling upset him. On those days he turned to his mother, wondering if he really was a boy to which his mother  always consoled him saying that he was loveliest and gentlest boy ever making her proud! ( Something for Abhay's mom to emulate!) Gagan then slept soundly and dreamed about flying as a Superman with Bingo by his side as the superdog!  But something happens at the year’s annual summer camp that changes the way everyone looks at the “Unboy” boy! Does Gagan actually get to live his dream of the “Superboy” that he really is ….. ? Read on to find out about Gagan’s unboy-turned superboy adventure!  It doesn’t matter if you fit in or you don’t as long as you are comfortable with who you are!  So if you or your little one seems be ill at ease about not fitting in……. “The Unboy Boy” is a book that’ll fit in perfectly for you!  :-)


  1. Wow, wishing to read it myself than reading to my toddler. Sometimes, we so carelessly label our children that it actually demoralizes them so much as to doubting their own identity! Thanks a lot for bringing this book up on your blog.

  2. Divya, thank you! While every word of yours in this review has me totally overwhelmed, there's one sentence in particular that is so utterly satisfying that I wish you were here to see me glide through my next several days - "have read the book many times over and each time there’s something new we discover in the illustration, almost as if it were a “look and find’ adventure of our own!" This had me first cry, then jump, then twist, and then mutter my 'Thank you, God'! Because if there's that one aspect I'd like my books to be appreciated for, it's this. And I'm delighted beyond words, Divya, that Abhay and you found it in this book. I will have a good night's sleep tonight; the best indeed I've had in ages, I promise! :)

  3. Very true Rashmi ...this is a great book that addresses just that! You must look it up.

    @Richa.....we loved the book and all its various elements. Thank you for the book and I am glad you liked my take on it:-)