Author : Geeta Dharmarajan
Illustrator: Archana Sreenivasan
Publisher : Katha
ISBN : 978-93-82454-06-9
Reviewer: Mouli Banerjee
Who Wants Green Fingers Anyway? is the new gem from Geeta Dharmarajan, prolific writer of children’s books and 2012 Padma Shri awardee for her service in Literature and Education. This joyful narrative revolves around a family’s growing awareness of the care they have to provide to the plants of their garden.
The story is very funny and entertaining. The narrative voice is that of the young elder daughter, who chronicles this family drama. She is chirpy and smart while observing the incidents unfold. Keeping her distance from the strife, she is amused at the course of events taking place before her. Amma takes immense pride in her potted plants, but they seem to be wilting. Appa tactlessly points this out to her, provoking her short-temper. Some pots break, a witty battle of words ensues, and a challenge is thrown. Will Appa be able to look after the plants better than Amma? The reader wonders, with the daughter. The plot is tightly woven and retains suspense until the final climax.
The illustrations by Archana Sreenivasan, a Bengaluru-based visual communication designer, add vigor to the story. Srinivasan, through the
caricature of the characters, enhances the humour in the story. The narrative, a good-humoured take on family life, is a typical example of
these incidental disagreements that end up as amused memories in our minds. All readers will relate to that.
The story urges its audience to realise that it takes time and effort to become good at something. Not all information can be based simply on theory. Practical experience is also crucial, as Appa learns when he tries to don the gardener’s hat, taken over from Amma. He reads books that claim to provide all the knowledge one needs to keep plants in good shape, but the mistakes he will soon commit prove otherwise.
The writing style and expressions of the book prolong this critique of pure theory. Puns on words also add to the story’s wit, for when, exasperated, Appa declares that the books said gardening should be “as easy as making mud pies.” The irony does not escape the readers: a mud pie is exactly what he has made, albeit literally a mud pie. The readers are also invited to understand the importance of accepting defeat gracefully. Appa, in the story, cleverly manages to hide the mess from Amma, which the reader may find ridiculous, yet cute. The title, too, is a clever quibble on the ability to grow plants well, and the literal meaning of one’s fingers turning green.
Who Wants Green Fingers Anyway? is a great read. It is an entertaining family story, combined with a subtle but important message on relationships.