Maccher Jhol, written by Richa Jha and illustrated by Sumanta Dey, is published by Pickle Yolk Books. You can buy it on Amazon and from us! The book is on the BICW Award list under Level 5 Beating the Odds. It is also on the Neev Book Award 2019 shortlist. Recommended age for self-reading: Regular 7+ | Advanced 5+.

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. I checked with Amrutash, who lived in West Bengal for a while, and found out that machher jhol means a lot to the Bengalis.

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

The book is the story of a little boy, Gopu, who travels farther through the streets of Calcutta than he’s ever done before just so he can bring his sick father some machher jhol. Written by Richa Jha and illustrated by Sumanta Dey, this book brings the busy city of Calcutta to life through Gopu’s eyes.

The story is beautifully told both through Richa’s evocative language and Sumanta’s rich watercolour illustrations. The pages of the book subtly reveal the truth hiding in plain sight. Check out the making of the book here!

I asked the BLPS storytellers about classroom feedback: full marks from the kids! Except for the ones who get queasy at the sight of fish. 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.

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 way.

We’re excited that the book is on the shortlist for the Neev award 2019. Check out our reviews of the other books on the Neev shortlist. What did you think of the book? Comment and let us know! Also check out the Best of Indian Children’s Writing (BICW) – Contemporary Award list!

? Also check out the Best of Indian Children’s Writing (BICW) – Contemporary Award list!

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