The Adventures of Tootsie Lama is written by Stuti Agarwal, illustrated by Ishan Trivedi and published by Juggernaut.
It has been shortlisted for the Neev Children’s Book Awards, 2019.
Recommended age for self-reading:
Regular 9+, Advanced 7+
Little Ms Lama
Stuti Agarwal succeeds in creating a very memorable eight-year-old named Tootsie Lama. Firstly, I dare you to try and forget that name! Secondly, with her ‘fringe set right between her ponytails’ and her bright red gumboots- Tootsie is a lovable, free spirit. One can imagine Tootsie gallivanting across the hills of Darjeeling, free as a bird.
In this heartwarming, almost Heidi-esque tale, we learn Tootsie isn’t like any other child her age. Tootsie lives by herself. She cooks her own meals. She also gets into loads of mischief and takes on life with gumption!
Tootsie and Thukpa
The story of Tootsie begins on the street, where she fends for herself before she is taken in by an elderly couple who live on a farm.
“There, inside the small red-brick house, by the burning fireplace, she had her first full warm meal – thukpa.”
We soon see how thukpa (a traditional noodle soup) becomes a great source of comfort for Tootsie. Tragedy strikes again very soon in the form of a landslide, which sadly takes away her new Aama and Baba. However, Tootsie carries on with even more vigour, believing that her Aama and Baba will return one day. (Heartbreaking.)
Tootsie isn’t all alone on her journey- her neighbours help her out whenever they can. She also has a loyal friend named Tenzing, who is always ready to indulge in her every whim and fancy. The two have a secret hideout in the corner of a garden, inside the canopy of an old oak tree. It is here that young Tootsie plans her next mischievous ploy. She longs to eat a simmering bowl of thukpa, just the way her Aama used to make it. But how is she to get her hands on one?!
Joel Daaju, though an unpleasant man, makes the best thukpa broth in all of Darjeeling. So the two set off, with a plan in mind. The plan involves Tenzing distracting Joel Daaju, a healthy mix of grasshoppers, cockroaches and other creepy crawlies that Tootsie has gleefully caught. Just what is Tootsie Lama up to?! Does she get to have her thukpa and eat it too? Read the book to find out!
Agarwal sets the story in Darjeeling, where she grew up, with the mighty Kanchenjunga as its backdrop. Her love for the land and its people comes through in her writing. Ishan Trivedi, through his beautiful double-spread illustrations, takes us into the bitter-sweet landscape of Tootsie Lama’s life.
Gently laced with reality, the story tackles heavy topics of loss and hardships with a lot of spunk. Published by Juggernaut, this book is recommended for children 7 and above. It is especially useful for those transitioning to chapter books as it contains 8 easy to read chapters.
Have you read The Adventures of Tootsie Lama 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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