Monday, May 13, 2019

Book Review: Unlucky Chumki by Lesley D. Biswas

Title: Unlucky Chumki
Author: Lesley D. Biswas
Publisher: Duckbill Books and Publications Pvt Ltd

Lesley D. Biswas’ ‘Unlucky Chumki’ is the tale of a girl who is taunted by everybody in her village for being the symbol of bad luck. This chapter book is Duckbill’s newest addition to their ‘hOle Book’ series meant for young readers who are slowly making the transition from picture books to something more text heavy.

The book’s eponymous protagonist, Chumki, is deeply saddened and troubled because of the label that she has to bear on her tiny shoulders like a huge burden. She doesn’t have any friends owing to this. Even the adults avoid her, thinking she’ll bring them bad luck. Some are even scared of her. Her younger brother, Aki, is the only one initially who doesn’t believe any of this. Nonetheless, he spreads rumours about her older sister to his own advantage.

While Chumki is a kind, good person who likes to stick to rules, Aki is a careless, reckless, fun person who is always into some mischief. But the two love each other and in spite of all their bickering look out for each other. It is Aki who actually chalks out a plan to help her sister lose the tag of being unlucky.

The way their grandmother, Dadi, treats the two reflects the mindset of the older generation who cannot but help themselves from discriminating between boys and girls. We see how while Chumki is discouraged from going to school and expected to help her mother with the domestic chores, Aki is left to his own devices. But the book holds out hope for all.

The story is easy-to-read. The fact that it tackles a serious issue like discrimination in such a sensitive way is an added bonus. Chumki’s story shows us how people suffer when we label them through our stereotypes, judgments, and prejudices. Without any blatant moralizing, Biswas shows her readers the power of empathy—of treating others with equal dignity and respect.

Anupama Ajinkya Apte’s delightful illustration of Chumki and her friends is modern, funny, and expressive. It brings out the theme of the story very well.

Children will return often to enjoy the endearing characters and fresh design.

Lesley Denise Biswas grew up in McCluskiegunj, and dreamed of playing cricket. But instead of a bat, she ended up with a pen in her hand. Currently based in Kolkata, she’s a freelance writer who enjoys writing children’s stories the most. She’s also passionate about nature, gardening and bird photography. 

After a fifteen-year stint as a software engineer, Anupama Ajinkya Apte decided to pursue her childhood passion for art. She loves drawing quirky characters. An avid Urban sketcher, she deeply enjoys working in watercolours.

I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

** Picture courtesy:, Google

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