A little book about B-I-G things

Like most five-year-olds, Mihir loves visiting his grandmother’s house and looks forward to her yummy preparations. However, it is his Ammama’s lunchtime tradition of feeding the birds that fascinates him most of all. Ammama explains that it is a way of sharing and giving respect to other living beings. A few birds and squirrels come by, and as they nibble at their lunch, Mihir nibbles on his own, while watching them and calling them his ‘lunch-friends’.

But one summer, Mihir’s lunch friends are gone. He learns that a mango tree nearby has been cut down to make space for a new building. Ammama cheers him up with stories about his Amma and the tree. Even Muthu the fruit-seller reminisces about the shade the tree offered and gives Mihir a mango. He wants Mihir to do B-I-G things when he grows up. Ammama helps Mihir plant the mango seed.

Back home, inspired by Ammama, Mihir takes on the tradition of feeding the birds. He makes a bird feeder and watches as birds gather at his window. Meanwhile, in Ammama’s garden the little sapling from the mango seed grows bigger and bigger under her care. As the tree grows, so does Mihir, not just physically but also in his mindfulness of other creatures that share this planet with us.

When we talk about the environment and climate change, children usually chant about saving trees, water, not wasting electricity… Lunch Friends written by Srividhya Venkat and published by Tota books, makes readers reflect on all the little things that are truly the BIG things: connections between generations, observing and caring about the littlest creatures around us and how, even tiny efforts can be meaningful actions. The simple, clear, and colourful illustrations by Shailja Jain Chougule add to the appeal of this thoughtful picture book.

By Joanne Saldanha