It's rare to find a book written for one city, that can be used as a ready reckoner for several others! But that's the case with "Just Look Up....to see the magic in the trees around you", a very handy booklet written by Sadhana Ramchander, and published by Blue Pencil Creative.
The book may be aimed at children...but it is very useful for adults, too, who'd like to look around them at the common trees in the cities.
Many "handbooks" or field guides are rather unwieldy to take along with one on one's outings; especially if they are hardbound. Sadhana's book is a slim volume...and it lists the common trees that can be found, not only in Hyderabad, where she lives, but in almost any Indian city or metro.
The book starts with a foreword by Bittu Sahgal, the editor of Sanctuary Asia, which makes the very important point that trees are not "things" but a form of life.
An introduction suggests that apart from the usual children's occupation of going on the internet or using cellphones, they could also look at the trees around them...and segues neatly into introducing the first tree on Sadhana's list, the Kadamba.
A list of twenty-two trees....with scientific names, and lovely, clear photographs, not only of the trees themselves, but of the leaves, the flowers, and sometimes, objects and jewellery made from them (as, for example, ear drops made with the seeds of the Coral Bead tree)..makes very interesting reading indeed.
Set in at intervals in the list, is the "Poetry and craft" section. Children do love to create things with their own hands, and suggestions as diverse as little models made from Gulmohar buds and broomsticks, or a mustard-sprout "smiley", are given with clear instructions on "how to".
Towards the end of the book is yet another unusual page, which says, "Before you look up, you actually look down"...and shows photographs of the petals of various flowers from the trees, that spread out in a carpet on the ground, prompting you to look up into the trees themselves. And in addition, are some illustrations of the other interesting things one sees when one looks down, a and here, and there...and observes!
The illustrations and artwork by Kobita Das Kolli, Aiman Eshana, Malini, Poojitha, and Rahel are delightful and add value to the book.
There is a very good bibliography and "further reading" and "things to do" section, too, for those who would like to take their interest further.
The book ends with a graphic "calendar" of the flowering of the trees. This particularly resonated with me, as I live in Banglaore, where the "serial flowering" of the trees, planted with forethought by the Dewan of Mysore State, Sir Mirza Ismail, and a team of eminent horticulturists (including
Gustav Krumbiegel and Marigowda) is a great feature of the city.
What I liked about the book was the fact that it is printed on such good quality paper. This will ensure that though taken on frequent outings, the book will last. The typeface and fonts chosen,too, and clear and easy to read. The proof-reading of the book has been excellent.
This kind of quality of publication, of course, comes at a cost, and the book is priced at Rs. 175. But I feel that this is a small price to pay, to give into a child's, or adult's hands, a book that they will find very useful indeed, and will awaken their interest in the wonderful beings who are, as Sadhana says, " give us something or the other all the time, but ask for nothing in return."
Another thing I particularly liked was the author's freely-given permission to reproduce any part of the book for non-profit educational purposes as long as the author is properly credited.
I would strongly recommend that all Bangaloreans buy this book for their children...and for themselves! Perhaps, with more awareness, the present Bangalore craze to cut down trees in their thousands to create broader roads for more polluting traffic to go through, will ease off....!
"Just Look Up...to see the magic in the trees around you "
By Sadhana Ramchander
with a foreword by Bittu Sahgal.
Photographs, unless otherwise credited, by the author.
Published by Bluepencil Infodesign
Price: Rs.175, 60 pages.
Printed at Pragati Offset, Hyderabad
Please contact Sadhana directly to get copies of her book, at