“Parvathy! What’s 7 X 12?”
Cynthia Ma’am was pointing at her, glaring sternly through her glasses. Parvathy’s mind went blank.
She remembered the previous night’s Math tuition with Thatha. “Parvathy! Answer now. Don’t be such a duffer.” Thatha had shouted. “What’s a duffer, Thatha?” Thatha said “duffer” means “stupid.” Parvathy knew she wasn’t stupid but Thatha was very angry.
Now, she quickly glanced at Cynthia Ma’am. “Parvathy, answer now! What’s 7 X 12?” The numbers loomed large like monsters in front of Parvathy. She heard someone giggling at the back.
She got extra homework that day and went home feeling dejected. Even worse, no one was home. She had to wait at her neighbour Nagaraj Uncle’s house in the meantime. Amma soon called her and told her that Thatha was hospitalized. Parvathy would have to do her homework by herself.
“How do I do it all by myself? What happened to Thatha?” Parvathy wondered, utterly distressed. That’s when Kutti, Nagaraj Uncle’s dog, entered the scene, with a woof. And a woof-woof, before he proceeded to lick Parvathy from head to toe.
Nagaraj Uncle asked Parvathy to take Kutti up to the terrace for a walk. Parvathy was worried! She had never walked a dog before. And she had to finish her homework.
But, Parvathy surprised herself – not only did she walk Kutti, but also managed to finish her homework!
How did she do it?
The Dog Who Taught Me Math is not a fantasy book. The dog doesn’t speak. He is certainly not an alien in disguise. It’s not a world full of magic. That’s not what you should buy this book for.
Children see the world around them in cinemascope, they see everyone as being three times bigger, and louder. Simple challenges become treacherous mountains.
It’s not as if they can’t love Math, but sometimes we make it so hard for them. In their eagerness to get Parvathy to be good at Math, her grandfather and her teacher push her a little too much. She is stressed; the kind of stress that makes you worse at everything.
And then comes Kutti, a large and friendly dog, who showers Parvathy with love. In their numerous walks, Parvathy finds herself and gets better at Math.
It’s a story that each of us will identify with, of how a loving friend helped us find the strength to “overcome the monster.”
Tanvi Bhat’s brilliant and vibrant illustrations visualizes the beauty and power of friendship and the fun of learning Math. Engaging with a difficult STEM subject and a pressing educational problem, this book is a gem for parents, teachers, and storytellers alike.
Trivia: The author Sonali Shenoy wrote this story inspired by a real dog, Moosa, a three-year-old black Labrador who helps children learn Math as a part of the ‘Doctor Dog Program’ in Chennai.