Home

HomeWritten, illustrated and designed by Nina Sabnani
Tulika, 2010.

Ages: 4-8

Home, Nina Sabnani’s new and ingeniously designed interactive book, is shaped like a house with a peaked roof. As a blurb on the back cover explains, the book’s design was inspired by the Kaavad, a portable wooden shrine made of many hinged panels and used by traditional storytellers in India to tell local myths and folktales. As is the case with the Kaavad, the idea behind Home is to “reinforce inter-connections within [one’s] community and to establish [one’s] own space in it.”

Home appeals strongly to both the eye and the imagination. Structurally, it’s designed to open and close, somewhat like a real house. Over a center panel, two tri-fold accordion panels unfold to the right and to the left as one “enters” the house. There is a second set of panels on the back side of the “house.” Each panel opens to reveal a few words and Sabnani’s bright renditions of an assortment of people and animals and the many different places and ways in which they live.

Readers can push open a cut-out window in the center panel of the book as they explore “the world” beyond them and ponder their own place in it (the window reveals either one or another of the panels, depending on the panels’ placement). Another great thing about this Home is that no keys are required to enter. Readers can come into it any way they please: through the front door, back door, the window… But regardless of how they enter, they’re likely to be staying a while, for, fold after fold after fold, they will be inspired to talk about their own ideas of family and home, and to put the book’s various panels and images together into stories of their own.

As interactive books go, this one takes the trophy for offering the right combination of learning and fun while stimulating thought and imagination. Highly recommended.

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