Machher Jhol Book Cover, Fish Curry
Maccher Jhol‘ is written by Richa Jha, illustrated by Sumanta Dey, and published by Pickle Yolk Books.

The book is on the BICW Award List “Under Level 5 – Beating the Odds”. It also features on the Neev Book Award 2019 Shortlist.

Recommended age for self-reading:
Regular 7+, Advanced 5

Machher Jhol – Made in Bengal

Machher Jhol means fish curry in Bengali. Despite what you might imagine from the name and the cover image, this book is not a recipe book or a book on the history of fish curry. To learn more, I checked with Amrutash, who lived in West Bengal for a while. He explains that machher jhol is, in fact, a very important part of Bengal culture and means a lot to Bengalis.

Fish Curry is a dish. Machher Jhol is an emotion.

Machher Jhol tells the story of a little bo named Gopu. Gopu knows exactly what his sick father needs to get better- a delicious hot bowl of Machher Jhol. We follow little Gopu on an exciting quest through the busy streets of Calcutta. In order to succeed, he must go farther than ever before.

Written by Richa Jha and illustrated by Sumanta Dey, Machher Jhol brings the busy city of Calcutta to life through Gopu’s eyes.

A Truth Hiding in Plain Sight

Through Richa’s evocative language, but also Sumanta’s rich watercolour illustrations. The pages of the book subtly reveal a hidden truth hiding in plain sight.

The storytellers also mentioned that it’s a delight to see the moment when the children finally realise the truth and then go flipping back to re-read the book.

Additionally, I asked our BLPS Storytellers about classroom feedback- Machher Jhol gets full marks from the kids! Well, except for the ones who get queasy at the sight of fish.

A few other children’s books with a similar theme come to mind – Kanna Panna and A Walk with Thambi. Both of them deal with the story of ‘different’ children who are heroic in their own ways.

Have you read Maccher Jhol yet?

What did you think of the book?
Leave a comment below and let us know!

Check out out other reviews of books on the Neev Awards 2019 Shortlist!

Hungry for more children’s writing?
Don’t miss the Best of Indian Children’s Writing (BICW) – Contemporary Award List!

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