The Susu Pals is the overused story of two girls, Rhea and Dia who are “We’ll marry the same prince” friends. Though it is a heartwarming story of how friendships are formed and maintained, it is also a portrayal of the times when friendships and loyalties are tested. And before people judge the book by its cover (literally) the book is about friendship not ‘urinating’!
The author, Richa Jha has succeeded in achieving an easy to read text that uses new adjectives. Her depiction of Rhea’s feelings when she must learn to live without her friendship with Dia is beautiful. And a new character towards the end adds a surprise element.
I was pleasantly surprised with how the author has managed to break stereotypical notions in a picture book for young girls. While playing, Rhea and Dia don’t pretend to be waiting for princes or making tea. Instead, they are out robbing banks and playing pirate. The story ends with a trio of two girls and a boy bringing down the “same gender” stereotype.
One small grouse here. Considering Jha’s love for picture books and her immense experience in the same, I would have liked to see a more original storyline. The presence of an unwashed and tattered teddy bear, whom the girls call ‘Prince’, was too clichéd and their animals being best friends was no less. Also, in a time of sms abbreviations I don’t quite approve of the use of the word ‘pals’ by the author. The one thing that really pinched me was the name-calling in the book.
The illustrations, by Alicia Souza, complement the story very well and have a degree of detail. The toys and the picnic basket are illustrated well. The atypical use of colors and color combinations is original. It’s evident that much thought has been put into the color of each character’s clothes to put forth an image compatible with the character. The comments made by the animals add humour to the story.
The Susu Pals
Written by Richa Jha; Illustrated by Alicia Souza
Publisher: Snuggle With Picture Books
Price: Rs 300
Sidika Sehgal, Delhi