Ammachi’s Glasses Is A Wordless Fun-Ride Of A Children’s Book About A Zany Grandma

Ammachi’s Glasses Is A Wordless Fun-Ride Of A Children’s Book About A Zany Grandma
Priya Kuriyan

Nothing develops a child’s imagination as words prompting her to create and recreate scenes and people in her head. It’s even better when there is absolutely no one telling her when it’s time to flip the page or tell them when the story has ended. Imagine a wordless book in which a child or well, an adult can look at the pages and create their own story in their own words, out of their own vocabulary and each time they go back to the book, they can create a new story and keep telling them in different ways! Children also need to be told stories that ground them into thinking about issues that matter whilst not making it burdensome. Picturebooks that ‘educate’ children sensitively are a beautiful way of doing the same.

A spread from the book. Image: My Little Bookshop
Ammachi can't find her own clothes

Delhi-based illustrator and animation filmmaker Priya Kuriyan’s Ammachi’s Glasses is one such experience. The storyline is very simple. One morning, Ammachi’s (grandma’s) glasses suddenly go missing and what spills out is the most extraordinary day filled with the spunky geriatric superstar’s antics. As she goes about her chores unbothered by her almost-blind vision, she ends up cooking green Hawaii chappals, wearing her grandchild’s blouse, and even eating fearful bugs ... err ... trying to eat fearful bugs—all this while making us split our sides! What’s more beautiful than anything else is that the story can be told in absolutely any language and it will still read and feel the same. For a lot of Indians, language, particularly the English language continues to be a hurdle. Books like these do their bit in breaking the language barrier and truly prove that imagination has no language.

Priya Kuriyan tells Homegrown that Ammachi is based on her own grandmother and her memories with the superbly spunky, funny lady who much like Ammachi, wore Chatta-mundu (an old way of wearing a two-piece saree) and disliked the house cat very much. Kuriyan’s Ammachi, whilst being slightly blind, does very unlike-Ammachi things and, in a way, also breaks our stereotypical image of an older woman. This day-in-the-life story was not originally intended to be wordless as Priya had sent the words along with her draft. However, the publishers suggested that the graphics were more than enough to tell the story and so the words were dropped. The strangely amazing thing about children is that they can hold on to one single feature or notice a new element every other time. For a book like Ammachi, it just means that a new story gets formed every time a new element is held onto!

Source: Little Kulture

Unlike many others, Priya Kuriyan does not believe that screens can replace books. She says that these two are two completely different experiences. Reading a picture book is a shared experience between parents and children and flipping the pages with a parent or asking them to go back to the last page because they were not done yet is an experience far removed from watching a video or reading on a screen. Despite acknowledging the aspect of distraction which has become so prominent, thanks to social media and the constant bombardment of information, she believes that children who read will continue to read and a reader will always be a reader.

Here’s to our hope and more beautiful books like Ammachi’s Glasses!

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