By Rati Girish
Chitty: A Dog and her Forest Farm by Serow and published by Kalpavriksh, is a book about a dog that finds her forever home on the author’s farm, deep in the Western Ghats. For a dog from the city, she carries none of the urban airs, and settles into her new life at the forest farm quickly!
Chitty loves going on long walks and chasing langurs. She often comes back home with forest fruit splattered on her face and enjoys leaping to eat termites – a protein-rich snack in the monsoons. The poignant tale takes us through Chitty’s life – from when she first arrives at the farm and settles in with the author’s family to when she finally merges with the land she so loved. Expect tears at this point.
For dog parents, any book or movie featuring a dog is an open invite to imagine our fur baby in the role of the protagonist. My children and I immediately wondered what our dog would do if he lived in a forest. Would our city-slicker be as brave as Chitty, when confronted with a snake? Would he know what to do when violent thunderstorms raged and the house shook? This book made us talk about the effects of climate change, whether animals have a sixth sense about danger and the integral role they play in the fragile ecosystem.
At first glance, this might seem merely like a story about a dog, but it is so much more. This book is a wonderful way of talking about life in a forest and the unique ecosystem of the Western Ghats – the fertile land, its wondrous treasures, and its seasonal mood swings. Serow deftly weaves in little details such as the starry night sky and the torrential rains that are common to the region. Meanwhile, Rajiv Eipe’s gorgeous illustrations transport readers into the heart of the forest where we can hear the dried leaves underfoot and feel the wet, moist monsoon air. Each page is a work of art. Highly recommend reading this book and adding it to your collection!