Tree Magic

Last Updated 24 November 2011, 16:04 IST
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It’s rare to find a book written for one city that can be used as a ready reckoner for several others! But that’s the case with ‘Just Look Up....to see the magic in the trees around you’, a very handy booklet written by Sadhana Ramchander, and published by Blue Pencil Creative.

The book may be aimed at children, but it is very useful for adults, too, who’d like to look at the common trees around them.

Many handbooks or field guides are rather unwieldy to take along on outings, especially if they are hardbound. Sadhana’s book is a slim volume and it lists the common trees that can be found, not only in Hyderabad, where she lives, but in almost any Indian city.

The book starts with a foreword by Bittu Sahgal, the editor of ‘Sanctuary Asia’, which makes the very important point that trees are not “things” but a form of life.
The introduction, which suggests that apart from surfing the internet, children could also look at the trees around them, segues neatly into introducing the first tree on Sadhana’s list, the Kadamba.

A list of 22 trees with scientific names, and lovely, clear photographs, not only of the trees themselves, but of the leaves, the flowers, and sometimes, objects and jewellery made from them (as, for example, ear drops made with the seeds of the Coral Bead tree) makes very interesting reading indeed.

Set at intervals in the list, is the ‘Poetry and Craft’ section. Children do love to create things with their own hands, and suggestions as diverse as little models made from Gulmohar buds and broomsticks, or a mustard-sprout ‘smiley’, are given with clear “how-to” instructions.

Towards the end of the book is yet another unusual page, which says, “Before  you look up, you actually look down” and shows photographs of the petals of various flowers from the trees, that spread out in a carpet on the ground, prompting you to look up at the trees themselves. And in addition, are some illustrations of the other interesting things one sees  when one looks down and observes.

There is a very good bibliography, a ‘Further Reading’ section and a ‘Things to do’ section, too, for those who would like to take their interest further.

The book ends with a graphic ‘calendar’ of the flowering of trees. This particularly resonated with me as I live in Bangalore, where the ‘serial flowering’ of the trees planted with forethought by the Dewan of Mysore State, Sir Mirza Ismail, Gustav Krumbiegel and Marigowda, is a great feature of the city.

This kind of quality of publication, of course, comes at a cost, and the book is priced at Rs 175. This is a small price to pay, to give into a child’s or adult’s hands, a book that they will find very useful indeed. It will awaken their interest in the wonderful beings who, as Sadhana says, “give us something or the other all the time, but ask for nothing in return.”

Book: ‘Just Look Up...to see the magic in the trees around you’
Author: Sadhana Ramchander
Publisher: Bluepencil Infodesign
Price: Rs 175 Pages: 60

(Published 24 November 2011, 16:04 IST)

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