A collection of stories to savour, for daughters of all ages

Inspired by a Russian classic, 15 moms share with daughters memories of their childhood days

GN Bureau | February 10, 2022


#motherhood   #Children’s literature   #Books  


When Mommy was a Little Girl
Edited by Pranav Kumar Singh
Illustrated delectably by Abhilasha Khatri
Ponytale Books, 152 pages, Rs 299

When Sasha was growing up in Russia, she would often say, “When I was a little girl…” The line made her father, an author named Alexander Raskin, think. He wrote a loving book for children, ‘When Daddy was a Little Boy’. Who can resist those childhood anecdotes? These are not so much autobiographical, dealing with one individual’s childhood, as they are universal. As it became popular in Russian, translations followed. First published in English in 1966, it remains a popular read.

“There's more to this book. Each one of you can discover the rest for yourself, for your own daddy can tell you about things that happened to him when he was a little boy,” Raskin wrote in the introduction. “And so can your mommy.”

That was the cue. Pranav Kumar Singh, editor, introduces the project, “…we requested Mommies to dig into their childhood memories and share their stories with us of when they were little girls. And from all over the country dozens of mothers answered. So many that we could not accommodate some of their contributions. This is mostly a crowd-sourced book – the contract that binds us to our contributors is not just a legal one, but one of unconditional love and affection. Mommies are like that, you know!”
 
Thus, fifteen mothers have a chapter each, telling their daughters about the time ‘When Mommy was a Little Girl’. The stories in the anthology, we are told, are incidents that actually happened with these mommies or ones they know of. Unlike Raskin’s original, crowd-sourcing has its pluses too, and the book takes the reader on a trip across India – “from tiny villages of Padiyar Gaon in the Garhwal hills of Uttarakhand and Pallibetta in South Kodagu district of Karnataka; from the lush plains of Assam; from the power-town of Ramagundam; from the coal centre of Dhanbad and the steel city of Jamshedpur; from the arid plains of Kutch in Gujarat; from the hill-towns of Dehradun and Shimla; and from the cities of Chennai, Bangalore and Pune…”

The anthology features some of the well-known children's writers, including Richa Jha, Mitra Phukan, Cheryl Rao, Nandini Nayar, Arthy Muthanna Singh, Mamta Nainy and Shyamala Shanmugasundaram along with first-time writers like Rohini Vij, Rati Girish, Vidya Nesarikar, Lipika Bhushan Uniyal, Debjani Mukherjee, Varsha Pillai, Madhumita Mandal and Ratna Manucha. They share a page of their life as a little girl that left an indelible mark on their memories.


 

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