We all carry fond memories of our childhood—visiting our cousins every summer, coming home to a chilled glass of Paanakam, a bedroom clad with photographs—the list goes on. As we grow older, we learn to associate home with the people, the things, and the places that made us feel loved. Janaki and Dhwani Sabesh’s Paati’s Rasam is one such tale of the enduring love and loss of the ones closest to us, brought to life through a brilliant storyboard by Vaijayanthi and beautiful illustrations by Pallavi Jain.
Children, whether it’s the ones in your home or the one within you, will instantly connect with Malli, the book’s protagonist. The youthful stride and cheerful spirit with which she approaches her Paati (grandmother), the bubble of safety, comfort and warmth she experiences when she is with her, are emotions many can relate to and fondly recall. Janaki and Dhwani narrate a story of tragic, inevitable loss, while holding their readers’ hand as Malli finds hope through the undying love for her Paati’s rasam.
For a parent, teacher, librarian, or even a young reader, Paati’s Rasam is a beautiful book that aids in exploring a wide array of difficult emotions.
01 The Role Families Play
Malli has her family’s endless support as she navigates through loss and grief. The book shows how she comes to terms with her pain, and finds a new direction for herself, with her parents by her side. The support and comfort a family affords is a pillar of vital importance for all children, and the sensitive manner in which the authors address loss never loses sight of that.
02 Dealing with Loss and Overcoming Grief
Growing up, we’re not always taught how to process or accept feelings of sadness, loneliness, and despair. For a child who has experienced the pain of irreparable loss, seeing one’s emotions reflected in a story can prove to be a much-needed reprieve and may also open up channels of communication.
03 Cherishing the Present and the Past
This book teaches children the significance of being mindful and finding joy in the present, while never losing track of the value of the past that has made us who we are.
04 People as Homes
Paati was Malli’s safe space in this book, and it’s essential for children to have a person in their lives that they can always turn to. The book emphasizes how home is a feeling that comes from within, always attached to the people who you love the most.
05 Understanding the Roots That Ground Us As We Grow
Our values and culture often get lost in translation as we grow up. It’s important to teach young minds the essence and value of cultural diversity, and the numerous ways in which it will enrich their lives. Just like Malli inherited Paati’s Rasam, let your children ground themselves through the values (or the dishes!) that remind them of home.
Dhwani Sabesh, the co-author, reveals the secret of the rasam at the end of the book. Titled ‘Malli’s Rasam’, the recipe is a manifestation of the love she holds for her grandmother and the memories and feelings of warmth and safety she holds dear.
Paati’s Rasam is a book suitable for everyone above the age of 5 years.
About The Neev Book Award
The Neev Book Award for distinguished children’s literature was started in 2018 with an aim to recognize outstanding writing that leads to a fuller understanding of India, Indian lives, and Indian stories. This award aims to promote and encourage high-quality children’s literature from India. Each winner is honoured at the Neev Literature Festival for their contributions with a certificate, trophy, and cash award of ₹1,00,000. The shortlist for the 2022 Neev Book Award reflects the diversity of children’s literature, and spotlights how books may foster human qualities of empathy, grief, compassion, and perseverance in young readers.