This is how the book Tadpole’s Promise (written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross) begins. These words will always have a special place in my heart for they transport me back to the time when I was 3 years old. I can still hear these words being read by my mother as I sat cuddled next to her. The time when words printed in books were mere scribblings for me. When pictures helped me string together a story of my own.
Of the memories I have of my early years, this one is outstandingly clear. It was a pleasant December day and my mother, and I went out to the mall. With my older sister in school, this was my exclusive time with Mama. After some fun rides and a delicious slice of chocolate cake, Mama took me to the bookshop and said that today I must choose a book for myself. Books to learn colours, shapes, alphabets, animals, numbers, nursery rhymes, bedtime stories- you name it, it was all there for me to choose from.
But on that day, Mama told me that it was time I started adding books to that bookshelf and that it is wonderful to walk into a book shop and choose a book the way we choose a friend. As we walked towards the children’s section, I was awestruck by the sheer number of books there was. I went from aisle to aisle, picking up books, flipping through pages, looking at pictures. Just then, one book caught my attention. I don’t know whether it was the fact that it had a blue cover that attracted me towards it for in those days anything blue was my favourite. I clutched that book and asked Mama to read out title to me.
“Tadpole’s Promise!”, Mama’s said happily, “What a great choice! You’ll love this book, Mir!”
And I did! It’s a simple tale of a tadpole and a caterpillar who fall in love. He was her “shiny black pearl” and she was his “beautiful rainbow”. They promise each other that they’d never change. But change is a principle of nature. We know that tadpoles change into frogs and caterpillars become butterflies. The book has an unexpected ending that just makes you gasp for a moment!
Of all the books that I’ve read and owned till now, this book holds a special place in my heart- its lyrical quality and fluid story telling has stayed in my mind. I must also mention that I got to meet Tony Ross, the illustrator of the book, at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2018! Here was the living legend that brought to life a story which has stuck on in my mind and probably always will. That meeting made me even more aware of the power books hold and the magic weavers that writers and illustrators are.
Through the years, I have bought several books. My sister and I are firm believers in passing on books during book donation drives. Hence, we’ve donated hundreds of books as well. But one book that I just haven’t been able to part with is Tadpole’s Promise. It holds a special place in my bookshelf along with books by Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Jeff Kinney, J.K. Rowling and David Walliams- my current favourites! I love this book because it was the very first one I ever owned and for the fact that it takes me back to a magical place “where the willow meets the water.”
by Mir Faraz
Mir, 8 years old, is a student at The Winchester School, Jebel Ali. A voracious reader, Mir does not like to be without a good book to read. He is a Reading Ambassador at his school and loves to spread the love for books, reading and EAFOL amongst his peers.