I borrowed ‘The Talking Bird’ from one of my Bengali friends. Written by Swati Sengupta and illustrated by Sayan Mukherjee, The Talking Bird is a simple but delightful picture book set up in the midst of the crowded city of Kolkata.
Ma, a working woman, is heading home one evening through a busy and noisy Dalhousie Square when she comes across a toy seller. She sees a beautiful, multi-coloured toy parrot perched on a swing with the seller. She wants it, to gift it to her son Tokai. She tries to haggle with the toy seller. Even though she fails to bargain, she still buys the bird and keeps it safely in her big handbag. Next, she boards a crowded bus, and that’s when a hilarious (though troublesome for Ma) journey ensues!
The talking bird repeats everything, rather loudly after the bus conductor and driver, so much as to upset them. The angry driver stops the bus in the midst of the busy street to find out the culprit. Meanwhile, the traffic outside comes to a crazy stop. All the other vehicles start honking and there is a mayhem on the street. The traffic policeman, in order to know why the bus has stopped midway, boards the bus. And he too suffers at the hands of the talking bird’s loud squawking. Finally, he arrests the talking bird in order to restore peace and order.
So is Ma able to gift the talking bird to her son or not? Read the story with your 5-year old to know the outcome.
As soon as I opened the book, I noticed the bright colours of the illustrations. The bright, bold and somewhat garish colours are as Indian as they come and represent everything that is India. Plus, the illustrations are very detailed, right upto the black mole on the conductor’s face, the baby pink nail paint on Ma’s fingers, the black bushy moustaches and body hair on the men’s face and body and the landmark buildings on the busy Kolkata square.
As I read the book to my 5-year old, she had a ball of a time. We laughed at almost all the pages. She loved the big bright pictures, the voices of the naughty bird and the yelling of the upset men. The best part was that she played the part of the parrot and started repeating every dialogue in the book after me in a squeaky bird-like voice. The repetition continued well after the book ended.
We were both sorry when the book ended, though we loved the end.
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