Review: The Moon Wants to be Spotless White by Priya Narayanan

December 24, 2013

Author: Priya Narayanan, Illustrated by Sunita Mitra
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing
Year: 2012
ISBN: 9789381576342
Rating: ★★½☆☆
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A children’s book by author Priya Narayanan, about the moon and his wish to look ‘beautiful’. But what does ‘beauty’ mean, really?

From the image of the book cover, and the title, I had assumed this was a picture book. ‘The Moon Wants To Be Spotless White’ is actually a chapter book of around 5000 words, which makes the target age-group 6-9 year-olds. The storyline however, seems too simple and not really suitable for the intended audience.

Teased by his friends, the stars, because he has a dark patch, the moon is shattered. He asks Mitu for help. Mitu in turn approaches Dhobi Kaka. At the end of a nocturnal adventure, the moon is spotless white. The moon is mighty pleased when he meets his friends, but very soon he is back to being dirty. This time, however, the moon realises that there is more to life than one’s appearance. The moon and his friends get together in a satisfying ending.

An adult (Dhobi kaka) plays a rather important role in the resolution, which is not what one would expect in a children’s book. Mitu’s mother sending Mitu off with Dhobi kaka at night is quite odd too.

The characters are mostly goody-goody, and the plot lacks excitement. I am not against quiet stories – Ruskin Bond’s The Blue Umbrella is a beautiful book, but it takes exceptional talent to create that magic.

‘The Moon Wants To Be Spotless White’ would have worked better as an illustrated storybook for younger kids. Of course, the vocabulary and sentence structure would have to be simplified, and the story length reduced. As it stands, it is a soothing story with an old-world charm that you could read aloud in installments, to a 5-6 year-old at bedtime.

Arundhati Venkatesh

Writer at IndiaBookStore
Arundhati Venkatesh is a children's writer and editor. In her previous work avtars, she managed projects at an IT major and headed communications at a non-profit.

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