It is a normal sort of a day in your house until…
“What’s wrong with the Wi-Fi?” Mommy howls.
“It’s DOWN!” Daddy hollers.
“Good riddance!” Nannu smiles.
The Manic Panic is a story of a day in the life of a normal family. Everything was going on as usual with the father cooking a meal with a phone held in one hand, the mother sitting on the couch with a bowl of something to eat in the hand and a laptop on the lap, the daughter hanging upside down from the couch reading a book and a grandma, Nannu, doing a headstand. Very normal, you may say. And, then a dreadful thing happens. The wi-fi stops working and all hell breaks loose for the parents. They get cranky and fidgety while the daughter makes all kinds of plans to spend the day outside the home in the park or cycling or having a picnic.
After a lot of whining, the parents actually start having fun. The twist arises when the same daughter, who dragged her parents out to discover plenty of possibilities, goes back to her room at the end of the day and finds the wi-fi is still not working. Now, it is her turn to become fidgety because she has a book report to finish and she cannot.
There is someone who knows the secret why the wi-fi connection got cut. However, who is that someone is not the question.
My Review –
What worked for me –
- The cover page design – One cannot help but notice the wi-fi sign replacing the dot over the letter ‘i’ in the words Manic Panic. This was highly creative. The image of a small girl pulling and dragging two grownups is intriguing and compelling enough to open the book and read the story.
- The illustrations by Mithila Ananth are simple and the colors are soothing for the eyes. The illustrations play an important role here in this story. They are not limited to the text but take the narrative forward and are also capable of telling the story independently. This is one of those books where the illustrations are not there because the book is meant for kids but because the storytelling needs them.
- The story by Richa Jha is unique. You may have noticed the characters playing the not-so-stereotypical roles in the family. Wherever the father figure is shown cooking or taking care of children independently, with or without the mother present in the same frame, it gets a notch higher for me. The grandma, Nannu, is also not the usual old lady holding and moving around with prayer beads in her hands but instead, she is shown doing a headstand and riding a motorbike. Now, how more unique and interesting can it get. This story also questions a big stereotype where it talks not about screen addiction in children but in grownups. All of us, as grownups and as parents, are used to blame the children for their addiction to screen. We often talk about how difficult it is to push the children out of the house to indulge in physical play and flex those muscles. In this way, what we forget is we are equally at folly with our screen addiction and which can bother our children too.
What did not work for me –
The ending left me confused to some extent since why will a small girl need a computer (and thus a wi-fi) to finish her book report. Or was it symbolically used to establish internet is not all that bad but is also useful in many ways, sometimes making us completely dependent on it? Being a blogger, I am dependent on the internet. Hence, I would like to believe the ending is subject to interpretation.
My verdict –
If you are the one who, like me –
Tries hard to keep the smartphones and iPads away?
Struggles to keep screen addiction at bay?
Likes to question stereotypes?
Likes to read and watch stories that break stereotypes and want to give your child a slice of such stories?
Then this book by Richa Jha and Mithila Ananth is just right for you and your child to read together.
Author – Richa Jha
Illustrator – Mithila Ananth
Release Year – First published in May 2018
Publisher – Creston Books (USA), Pickle Yolk Books (India)
Age group – 5 – 9 years
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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