• JoAnne Saldanha

A Cup of Noon Chai and a Library of Stories.

Give me a book about stories and I’m happy.

Give me a book about stories and family connections...and I’m thrilled!

Give me a book about stories, family and a tea time ritual...sigh, could there be anything better?!!!

Give me a book about stories, family, tea, writing and books...is that even possible? I’m ecstatic.

Give me a book about stories, books, family, tea, writing, books and children’s agency and I feel a deep inexplicable joy.

Give me Noon Chai and a Story by Adithi Rao, illustrated by Ghazal Qadri...it’s magical.



I ordered Noon Chai and a story on a tepid recommendation, all because I was told…”JoAnne, I think YOU might like it, it’s a book about stories.”


I just cannot resist books and stories about stories, whoever recommended this obviously knew that well!

I guess stories are such a natural part of my life….it's like breathing. Inhaling them as I read and listen….exhaling as I share them.


I had forgotten about my order with Tulika and was ecstatic at the sight of the parcel which arrived yesterday, weeks after I ordered it...CoVid restrictions preventing it from getting to me earlier.


I sat down with my cup of coffee which is MY 'tea time' ritual...reading, whilst sipping and popping in some rather yummy diamond biscuits in place of the buttered kulcha and noon chai and began to read it.


The first page opens with the suggestion of starting a library….that was more than enough to get me hooked.

When an 'Uncle' from far far away holds up a book and tells the children about collecting more books to set up a library, Amiya wonders where they will get them from...given that living in Gurez, Kashmir, there are no storybooks but rather, lots of snow.

Amiya ponders about how she could fill the library with books, when she remembers that her Deidi (grandmother) “holds a lot of stories in her old-old eyes” and that her Sa (sister) won a drawing prize in school.

Taking time over her noon chai ritual, Deidi soon pours out the warmth of her stories along with that of the chai, in the process sharing a family story that gives Amiya a peek into not just her family history, but that of her people and country...the stories interwoven as stories often are.

Amiya writes the stories and her sister illustrates them, stitching the pages together to create a book.

Noon Chai and stories soon become a ritual and over time the library with one book, grows with precious sharing, gentle words and beautiful drawings.

With winter drawing near, Amiya inspires her schoolmates to collect stories, best collected over a cup of noon chai, when with the tea...words and warmth flow.




A beautifully woven tale about stories, with quirky, happy illustrations. This book warmed the cockles of my heart.



Why is this book so special to me?


Each of us bring a little of ourselves to the books we read...as we draw from our experiences to understand the story...we pour little bit of our lives into the interpretation.


I believe in the power of stories, especially family stories...those stories from our own lives, often forgotten in today's time. The telling of these tales are a blessing to both the teller and listener, building connections across the generations.

They help the older generation reminisce, often back to happy times, Even if the tale is about hard times, the story unconsciously passes on the idea that life is made up of good and tough times and when the times are rough, the tough are resilient and work through it.

As humans, stories make up our very fabric, and are deeply interwoven in how we learn. They instil a sense of belonging, identity, pride, knowledge and all the mores and norms of the group/family we belong to.


I love how the book suggests documenting these stories...I wonder whether the author consciously meant to or not. Writing, drawing, saving these family heirlooms...more precious than any piece of jewellery safely kept to pass down.


As an educator and a parent, I identified with the ‘Uncle’ from far, far away, who lit that little spark in Amiya, prompting her to start on her mission to gather stories, create books and build a little library. This in turn sets off a chain reaction, with other children doing the same to build a classroom library.

I do hope an wish that my efforts set off sparks that could possibly turn into a blazes of interest and purpose.


If you’ve reached till here and my post hasn’t done this book justice, let me say loud and clear that I LOVED this book!!!


NOON CHAI AND A STORY

AUTHOR: Adithi Rao

ILLUSTRATOR: Ghazal Qadri

PUBLISHER: Tulika






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