Reading books takes us to places we don't know of and it gives us a peep into people's lives which is very different from ours. The book Iqbal & His Ingenious Idea written by Elizabeth Suneby and illustrated by Rebecca Green took us one step further. It made us think of possible solutions that could easily make their lives a lot safer and comfortable than what it is now.
Gist of the book
Iqbal's mother had to cook on open fire indoors during monsoons. The small kitchen used to fill up with so much smoke that she used to cough often. Her health was getting affected. In the book, Iqbal thinks hard about how he can help his mother.
Problem solving after listing details from the pictures
The young readers observed the pictures to identify the source of the problem. They looked around for spaces outside where she could cook without inhaling the smoke. Then they realized that it was raining heavily outside and concluded that an open fire would get diffused and she will not be able to cook.
They noticed a covered veranda and came up with ideas to convert the veranda into a kitchen. "But wouldn't the rainwater get in? Wouldn't the food get wet?" The group went back to building walls to prevent rain water from coming in and suggested a large window for the smoke to escape. "But how different would that be from the kitchen inside?" Then came the solution from from one of the young readers- "How about having a chimney?" Another suggested "How about an LPG gas stove?" "But they would need money for that," pointed out another young reader. "Why not take a loan?" asked another!
Striking a connection with Iqbal
The young readers were fascinated with the concept of building a solar cooker. Some of them shared their experiences of attempting to build one. They looked upto Iqbal. They were in awe of this ability to build a rudimentary solar cooker with an umbrella of all things. They were impressed with his love for his mom and how he figured a way to ultimately buy a gas stove in the end, without borrowing any money.
This is an ingenious book that must be read not only for a sense of reality that we may not be aware of but also to learn to figure out ways to survive making use of what is given.
Disclaimer: Talking Circles did not receive a free copy of this book. The book review is based on actual experiences of the writer while facilitating discussions based on the book in the Young Readers' Club.