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'The Village with a Long Name' stretches our imaginations.

While the curly whirly script on the sign boards belie the fact that this book may be set in a village in South India, I felt villages like this could be any where...especially our imaginations, just like it was in Asha Nehemiah’s as she wrote this book.

I ordered it a few months ago from Bangalore based Funky Rainbow, one of the best online sources for Indian published children’s books. Ever since then, I’ve been waiting to use it. So I decided to intersperse my Folk Tales of India unit with this, THE VILLAGE WITH A LONG NAME written by Asha Nehemiah and illustrated by Suvidha Mistry.

The village of ‘Thaiyum-thatha-thaiyum-thaha-taka-dhimi-chimmy-shimmy-pur’ had streets with very long names…how would they be depicted on sign boards? How would you write the addresses on letters? The villagers are used to these very long names and easily circumvent any problems they may cause. But it takes is one wrong delivery of laddoos, to send mayhem their way!

Foxed? Then you need the book to find out.

This book is eye-poppingly colourful and catchy and my students interests were piqued by just showing them the cover. The interesting characters appealed to them, they were brought to life by the wonderful illustrations. But nothing was as catchy as the names of the streets in the village. They rollicked with laughter and waited to hear each new name emerge. They waited to figure out the ‘theme’ of each street name and jumped up and down with excitement, eyes filled with the delight of victory, when they got it right.

I challenged my younger elementary children to come up with very long names for villages, requesting them to think of themes and keep rhythm and rhyme in mind. I found that the one hour class was not enough to help them think in a theme and they preferred to make up names in gibberish…gibberish being a new word they learnt that day and they milked it all they could. They laughed as they created names and laughed at each other's village names.

So, I took this book to my older elementary group who ranged in age from 9-11. They looked at the book with feigned boredom and the look that said, get it over with asap. This is a group that I have been working with on Norse myths and Fractured Fairytales and they were a tad insulted that I would dare to read them a ‘baby’ looking book. But a few paragraphs into the book, those same bored faces began to crack into wee smiles, then bigger ones, they loud guffaws. They loved it!! They victory over their bored looks was mine….well not really. It well and truly deserved to the author and illustrator.

Their challenge was to design a themed village…they were given a random choice of A3 charts, on the back of which I had written themes….Foodie village, Book village, Music, Sports, Science, Fashion etc. They had to design the village based on these themes, think of the shapes of the buildings, the names of places, the streets and the village name, and any other details they felt added to the theme. They worked in pairs, discussing and sharing ideas with their partner before putting it down on paper. The children understood the requirements and although they had a good 30 minutes to complete the activity, they felt the time was not enough for the detail they wished to share. A few named their village with a long name, but more just named them a small appropriate name for their theme.

I’ve explained some of their ideas in the photo descriptions.

I love to see how their imaginations play out, the children never fail to surprise and enchant me with their creations.

Working together to create their 'village'.

The Book Village

A house from Semiqua...the music village

The name of the wotch man from the Food Village....get it? (love their creativity)

The Sports Village

This book is a fun and engaging read aloud choice for primary children, but lends itself to being extended beautifully with the elementary age group.

I have only ever interacted with Asha Nehemiah online, but shamelessly claimed that she was my ‘friend’. I chose to stretch the truth a bit as this association with a person who they only see as a name on the cover of the book, had my younger elementary students fascinated.

They wanted me to tell my ‘friend’ that they loved her book and that it was soooooo funny. Asha....take note.

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