You’re snug with me

by Feb 16, 2019Book Review, Picture Book

Book Details

You’re snug with me
Chitra Soundar, illus. Poonam Mistry, London: Lantana Publishing, hb, 978 1 9113 7347 6, £11.99, 2018, 32pp.
Picture book, 4+ years

“You’re snug with me” whispers mother polar to her two little cubs as outside the Arctic winter reigns. The seasons move, and the little cubs have questions as they gradually move out of their den to explore and mother bear answers but always ends with the reassuring words ”You’re snug with me”.

This is a book to be shared, ideally between parent and child; a book brimming with love – love between mother and babies, love for the environment – but never sentimental. The text is gentle, matter-of-fact almost, the descriptions concise, spare, the is the conversation that happens in families reflecting the questions all children will ask. Such restraint could have been dangerous – where is the tension to attract its very young audience? Chitra Soundar’s carefully crafted text finds its perfect accompaniment in Poonam Mistry’s art. Here is the decoration to balance the words. And what decoration. Drawing on designs from the Indian sub-continent – designs found on the buildings of the Islamic and Mughal tradition, designs found on exuberant Hindu sculptures,  designs drawn from the textiles that inspired the chintze that took the west by storm – and the designs found in nature especially those of snowflakes. – Mistry fills each double spread with pattern and colour. However, this is no uncontrolled riot. Rather the intricate multiplicity of decoration is carefully contained allowing the eye to explore and enjoy; the colours are the colours of the frozen north – electric blues, icy mauves and frosty whites, while the bears are golden – polar bears are not in fact white –  here emphasising their warmth and closeness as a family.

This is a picture book to excite – both visually through illustrations that are a welcome antidote to the familiar, and through the story it tells, a story of a family in a specific environment that seems enduring but is threatened. Here is no drama just a gentle reminder that just as children (and cubs) need care, so does the earth. Here is a picture book to treasure and share.

Review by FMH

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