Book Review: Frank Goes To The Market

  • Genre: Children’s book, Kiddie book
  • Age group: 2-4 years

Frank Goes To The Market, as the name suggests, is the story of a little boy named Frank who visits the market with his mother. His mother has a lot of shopping to do in the market, and tells him to stay close to her, without wandering off anywhere. Soon, though, Frank notices a cow with bells around her neck and, attracted, starts following her. It doesn’t take him long to realise that he is lost, alone in the bustling market. As the book progresses, the author reveals how Frank tackles the situation, calmly and without panicking, thinking hard about all the stalls his mother might have stopped at. Finally, Frank does manage to find his mother at the lemon stall (Frank deduces this because his mother had promised to make him lemon juice once they got back home). Relieved, the duo return home together.

The story, by CG Salamander, is sweetly and simply told. The narrative is in the form of easy-to-follow rhymes, which I think is a great way to keep kids engaged. I loved the very Indian context of the story – the story is set in an Indian bazaar, which all Indian kids would have visited and can easily relate to. I also loved the way the book acts as a learning aid, teaching kids what kind of stalls to expect in a market, the importance of staying close to one’s parents in a crowded place and, most importantly, how not to lose one’s calm when put in a situation like Frank’s.

This book, by Ms. Moochie, is meant for children between 2 and 4 years of age, and my 2.5-year-old daughter enjoyed it immensely. We have already read the book several times over, and it has just been a week since we received it!

The illustrations in the book, by Chetan Sharma, are simply brilliant, I must say. The pictures are so colourful, so vivid, so realistic, I couldn’t help but fall in love with them, and neither could my daughter.

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Picture 1: The cover page of Frank Goes To The Market; Picture 2, 3 and 4: Samples of the brilliant illustrations within the book

What I felt could have been better is the language used in the book. I understand that the book is meant for beginner readers and that the language has to be simple, but I kept feeling that the choice of words could have been better. Also, the story could have been made a little more intriguing, with a few twists and turns thrown in, to keep children better engaged. Language- and story-wise, in my humble opinion, I felt the book ranked a couple of notches lower than the amazing Tulika and Pratham books that I am used to reading with the bub, many of those set in Indian contexts too.

Frank Goes To The Market is priced at INR 200 which, I felt, is slightly on the higher side. A price range of INR 120-150 would have been good.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely, for the illustrations and the important life lessons that it holds.

I was sent a copy of this book, free of cost, to read and review honestly. The thoughts expressed herein are entirely my own, completely honest, and not inspired by anyone or anything.

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Mexican Chilli Chocolate Ice Cream| No-Egg, No-Churn, No-Ice Cream Maker Recipe

I read Laura Esquivel’s Like Water For Chocolate a few years back. I didn’t like the book much, but scenes from it have stayed in my mind, particularly some food-related ones. I still recall parts of the book where the heroine cooked up magical dishes that had the desired effect upon the eaters, combining ingredients that would have seemed bizarre otherwise.

My desire to combine chilli with chocolate began with this book, I think, though I’m not sure. Since this book happened, I have wanted to make something that would combine these two ingredients – chocolate and chilli, sweet and hot – but never took an initiative towards this end. Just recently, though, this foodie dream of mine came to fruition, and my imagination took the shape of a Mexican chilli chocolate ice cream. It turned out beautifully, I must say.

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My Mexican chilli chocolate ice cream

This might look like ordinary chocolate ice cream, but it is so not. It is an ice cream that is perfect for times when you want to stun, to surprise, to create an impression. It will, initially, seduce you with its rich, chocolate-ey flavour, then shock you with the hint of chilli in it! And, yet, this Mexican chilli chocolate ice cream is so very simple to prepare – it is just a matter of minutes.

Here is how I made the ice cream.

Ingredients (makes about 4 servings):

  1. 200 ml fresh cream (I used Amul)
  2. A pinch of salt
  3. 200 grams sweetened condensed milk (I used Amul Mithai Mate)
  4. About 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, or to taste (I used Hershey’s)
  5. 2 teaspoons of red chilli powder, or to taste (I used Everest)
  6. About 2 teaspoons of powdered sugar, or to taste

Method:

  1. Take the fresh cream in a large mixing bowl. Whisk till smooth, without overdoing it.
  2. Add the salt, cocoa powder, condensed milk, chilli powder and condensed milk. Whisk gently, until everything is well combined together.
  3. Pour this mixture into a clean, dry, air-tight box.
  4. Keep the box, covered, in the freezer and set it at the highest temperature. Freeze till the ice cream sets, which should take about 4 hours.
  5. Get the ice cream out of the freezer only when you are ready to serve it, because it melts quite fast. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. If you do not like the idea of chilli in your ice cream, you could omit the chilli powder and follow the rest of the proceedure. In that case, you would get a pure chocolate ice cream, a lovely rich and smooth one at that.
  2. Since I do not own an ice cream maker and am not too fond of churning my ice cream multiple times, I use condensed milk to add creaminess and to help it set beautifully.
  3. Adjust the quantity of chilli powder, depending upon how much spiciness you would prefer in your ice cream. Similarly, adjust the quantities of cocoa powder and powdered sugar as per your taste preferences.
  4. You could use whipping cream instead of fresh cream, to make the ice cream richer and creamier. That said, this Mexican chilli chocolate ice cream is sinfully creamy and lovely as is.
  5. I didn’t want to boil green chillies and add the extract to the ice cream, to flavour it. Neither did I want to add ground green chillies to the ice cream. I have, thus, used red chilli powder to spice it up.

You like? I hope you will try out this Mexican chilli chocolate ice cream, too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!

A Walk Through RK Narayan’s House In Yadavgiri, Mysore

I find it somewhat strange how our recent, planned-at-the-last-minute trip to Mysore turned into a sort of exploration into the life of Indian writer RK Narayan. Just a little way into the trip, purely by chance, we stopped for breakfast at a restaurant reminiscent of RK’s Malgudi Days. Once we reached Mysore, we realised that the author’s house was a few paces’ walk away from where we were staying! And then, as we explored Mysore, we began to discover that almost every place we visited had some or the other connections with RK. Spooky, but I am glad this happened. Otherwise, I might never have gotten around to visiting RK Narayan’s house and knowing the author a little better.

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The board at the entrance to RK Narayan’s house

RK Narayan, best known for his book Malgudi Days, especially the unforgettable character of Swami, lived for some part of his life in Yadavgiri, Mysore. The two-storey house stayed in a state of neglect for quite a few years, after everyone from the author’s family moved away from it, one after the other.

The house was just about to be razed down, in 2011, when a group of people recognised the immense value that it held and started a protest against the bulldozing. More and more people went on to join the protest, the media took notice, and then, a decision was taken to not destroy the house, but to restore it to its former glory and make it into a museum showcasing paraphernalia from RK Narayan’s life and times (October 10, 1906 to May 13, 2001). Sad that places like this are considered to be of no value, and that people have to fight for its restoration, but at least, the restoration happened! And, it is a very well-done restoration, too. Today, the house has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with fans of the author visiting so as to get a peek into the life of their favourite author for a brief while.

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RK Narayan’s two-storey house in Yadavgiri

Personally, I am not a big fan of the author. I rather enjoyed watching Swami in the TV version of Malgudi Days – and that is the face I remember when I think of Swami. As for the author’s books, I found them quite dry and dull. But then, the lives of authors and the way they find inspiration for their stories always intrigues me, and for that reason, I loved visiting this place.

Apparently, RK Narayan came from an affluent Tamilian household, and his house is testimony to his family’s financial status. It is quite spacious, well ventilated, airy and full of light. We saw pictures of this very same house in its sad state of disrepair, and judging by that, the restoration team has done a wonderful, wonderful job.

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A photograph of the author with his wife

One room in the house is devoted to black-and-white photographs from the author’s life – the school he went to, one of him as a little boy with his parents, one with his wife, one of him with his wife and daughter, and so on. On display are also the various degrees that the author was awarded and the awards he received, including the prestigious Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. In bits and pieces, a number of placards tell the story of RK Narayan’s life, rather tragic if you ask me, with him going against his family and society to marry the girl he loved, only for her to pass away just a short while into their marriage, and then, later with his daughter also passing away before him.

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RK Narayan’s collection of books

Another room in the house has built-in-the-wall bookshelves that hold the books the author has read, during his lifetime, as well as the many different ones he has written. Quotes by the author, at different times in his life and from his books, also adorn the walls.

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A quote by RK Narayan. How true, right?

Stills from the TV serials and movies that have been made out of his books are also displayed.

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Stills from the TV version of Malgudi Days, the work for which the author is best known

I simply loved what once was the author’s study, with huge windows letting in the sunlight and a table in the centre, where, I am guessing, he used to sit and read.

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The author’s study. Fascinating, is it not?

The original kitchen, bathroom and storeroom in the house have also been retained, just as they were all those years ago. There definitely was an air of old-worldiness surrounding these rooms, and I could not help but imagine how the author and his family would have gone around their daily chores in this house.

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The original kitchen in the house, now stands restored

Another room in the house exhibits the clothes and glasses that RK wore during his lifetime, all lovingly preserved. There are photographs of him wearing these very same clothes and glasses. Apparently, the author was a very simple man who didn’t believe in hoarding possessions, and his simple belongings reflect that, as well as the times he lived in.

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A winter coat that the author used to wear

The husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the author’s house, leisurely going through each and every thing on display, and trying to piece together what his life might have been like. If you are a book lover and love peeking into the lives of authors, I would highly recommend a visit to this place, irrespective of whether you are an RK Narayan fan or not.

The house remains open to the public on all days of the week, from 10 AM to 5 PM. There are no entry fees. All you are expected to do, at the end of your visit, is enter your comments/suggestions into a guest book placed at the reception.

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Do check out my other posts about Mysore!

Chocolate paan, from Mysore, with love

Of eating mysorepak straight from its place of origin

Notes from a sort of dosa trail in Mysore