If an illustrator signs a copy of his book for my students at school, a bias is warranted isn't it? So at the outset, let me confess that I desperately wanted to do a Read Aloud with THE LIONS FEAST by Lavanya Karthik, illustrations by Chetan Sharma.
As I sat down on my cane 'Read Aloud Chair', I couldn't wait to share my excitement. I turned the cover to display the message Chetan had signed on that page, along with the coolest illustration of a Lion!!! They looked at the page confused initially, and then started the questions. "But how?" "How did they know our schools name?" "Oh!!! You met the illustrator??" "Did he draw in front of you....just like that?" "Wow! Awesome! Cool!" Then followed the incessant questions about how I met him, where, when......all asked with incredulous expressions......coz well, an author or an illustrator are movie/ sports/ rock stars in their eyes.
With this setting, I started the read aloud. I get a mixed age group class of 2nd to 6th graders into the library. The older children were a bit miffed that I asked them to sit in on the read aloud as they think it's a bit babyish.....since well they are all proficient readers and can read themselves.....thank you very much!!! Hmmmppphh!
But then the names 'Muthumama' and 'Muthumami' caught the attention of my little Chennaivasis, and their curiosity was piqued.
What can I say.....my students, giggled, laughed, guffawed, rolled on the floor, yelled that the story had made them hungry and tummies rumbling declared that they too wanted crisp dosas, juicy chutney and spicy sambar. ....although it was just after lunch break. They marvelled and giggled at the illustrations which portrayed the lion with almost human expressions, each one pointing out to details they noticed.
That was until Muthumama's burp triggered a mini burping competition but with the turn of a page their raucous burping and laughter launched into fingernail nibbling, enlarged eyes and rounded mouths in suspense and anticipation of 'what would happen next'.
This is a great book to read aloud and lends itself to loads of expressions and sounds.
The book offers 2 possible endings. My 5th and 6th graders thought up a possible 3rd.
Their endings ranged from the sweet and kind, to brutal, to fantasy, magic realism, to hopeful(!)...
(the burp sending the lion flying to the White House, where he gobbles up Trump), to bizarre......but one thing for sure, they were all highly imaginative.
Slide to read some of the children's responses and how the children's work is displayed for all to read, enjoy and be inspired.
Chetan Sharma.....thank you for taking the time out to sign a book for the crazy lady who ran all around the lit fest to look for you and also for your fun, detailed illustrations.
Lavanya Karthik, the text is just so much fun and sparked plenty of discussions and imagination in my students.....this book is flying of the shelves.