Name of the book: In My Heart
Author: Nandana Dev Sen
Illustrator: Ruchi Mhasane
Reading Level: 5-7 years
MRP: INR 299/-
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‘In My Heart’ is the story of little Mia who knows she had come out of her Mumma’s heart and her Papa’s heart. But when she discovers that her friend, Neel’s Mumma has a big tummy because there’s a baby in it, she starts asking questions. Mia wonders how she landed up in her parents’ hearts, and whether, after she came out of it, their hearts became smaller, like Neel’s mumma’stummy was going to, after the baby came out.
When she learns that she has a ‘Tummy Mummy’ too, she goes on a quest to find her and asks everyone she knows to help her find her Tummy Mummy.
When I read this story to Laddoo, she listened to it with interest, but I wondered if she could understand what it was about. She knew it was about a girl named Mia, and she knows that she (Laddoo) came out of my tummy, and she did enjoy me reading it to her. But I guess it’ll be a bit longer before she can understand the delicate story in the book.
Laddoo loves the colourful illustrations, and keeps coming back to the page where Mia’s aunt, Ira is holding a tray full of cookies, and is thrilled to see that Mia likes most of the things Laddoo likes – puzzles, butterflies, dinosaurs, cookies, stars, and swings! There are so many varied elements on each page that we make a good exercise out of it when we point and name at things. Laddoo also recognises the various characters in the book, like Mia’s parents, Neel, Mia’s aunt Ira and uncle Jay, and her grandparents too.
Personally, I thought that the subject was handled very well by the author. I cannot imagine what a child must feel like knowing that s/he has another set of parents or that s/he was born to someone else. I loved how Mia’s parents had told her the truth from the beginning – that she came from their heart – in a way that she could understand and handle at her age, and continued telling her the truth when she started asking questions about her biological mother, her ‘Tummy Mummy.’ This just reinforces the fact it is not necessary to lie to children to avoid difficult conversations. There’s always a way to explain the circumstances to them in a way they can understand, and that’s what will always stay with me about this book.
When Laddoo can understand the real meaning of the story when she’s older, I think this will be a good starting point to explain to her that there are all kinds of families, and that bonds of love are just as strong as bonds of blood, and that sometimes, you even get to pick who becomes a part of your family. Rightfully so, the suggested reading level for this book is 5-7 years, which is a long time from now, for us, but I will keep reading this to her.
Maybe she does understand more than she lets on; maybe she doesn’t. Either way, if nothing else, it is still a story of a very sweet family that brings a smile to my face every time I read it, and I’m sure it will bring one to yours too.
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