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Deven Jatkar is the founder of Monkey Mantra, a creative design studio.
Born in India, he is passionate about presenting the Indian lifestyle and culture to a global audience through his illustrations and storytelling. Deven appreciates the opportunity to showcase the Indian experience through his craft and has multiple such projects on the drawing board that keep him happy and busy!



BY • POSTED ON Dec. 8, 2019

As summer approaches, a preschooler presents alphabetical items to her class for show and tell in this debut picture book.

Maya, a brown-skinned preschooler, gets a daunting assignment. In the 26 days leading up to preschool graduation, she must bring a show-and-tell item related to successive letters of the alphabet. Maya is thrilled—but when it’s time for the letter A, a disembodied parental voice reminds her that neither full-size airplanes nor real alligators are practical subjects. Maya settles for an apple. The next day, she is stopped from carrying her baby brother and then a beehive to school. As the letters proceed, Maya must forgo clowns and other entertaining ideas in favor of small—and boring—replacements. Some adult suggestions are reasonable (do not bring a giraffe to class); others may prompt readers to question the rigidity of parental authority (Why can’t a girl dress as a ghost for G?). In between letters, double-page spreads deftly depict Maya’s weekends, which include tricycle racing and bug watching. While Jatkar’s narrative is a bit thin, there is an inspiring trend of Maya and her parent finding more compromises as they near the end of the alphabet—and of the heroine’s vibrant, wide-ranging interests making their way into the classroom. The author’s ink, paper collage, and watercolor illustrations are detailed enough to discuss during storytime—though the small font size used for the dialogue may hinder readers practicing letter recognition.

An intriguing meditation on children’s agency and imagination skillfully paired with early literacy.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9977181-6-4

Page count: 46pp

Publisher: Monkeymantra

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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