Book Review: The Fried Frog And Other Funny Freaky Foodie Feisty Poems by Sampurna Chattarji

fried frogI first came across this book a couple of years ago when I was an intern at my old job. Never having been a fan of poetry, the fun cover nonetheless managed to catch my eye. I thumbed through the book when I was supposed to be working (hey, this could have been work too. I could have reviewed it for the kid’s newspaper I was interning at) and the fun illustrations decorating the pages had me begging my boss to borrow the book. Once I was back home, I finished the book in one sitting, promptly fell in love with it and decided I must have a copy of my own. This led to a months-long, multiple-store search for an elusive copy until I finally asked a store to just order it.

I credit this book to opening my eyes to the fact that not all poetry has to be ghastly (excuse that term, I’m on a school story binge at the moment and I almost used the word beastly instead). Until then, I was sure I was too stupid for poetry with most long-winded ones going over my head while the simple ones we had been taught in school were deemed too boring for my liking. But here was a book that showed me poetry could be simple, meaningful and fun all at the same time (and I’ve found the best ones always are). It was only in later discussions that the genre of nonsense verse and its various manifestations was brought to my delighted attention. Then, along came some  favourites like Shel Silverstein and Ogden Nash and, just earlier this year, Lewis Carroll.

The book itself is divided into six sections, the titles of which are not very self-explanatory but fun excerpts nonetheless. Most poems are fun, some are nostalgic of a childhood spent in the mountains while a few touch on serious issues or give reason for deeper analysis. They deal with a myriad of subjects from her own childhood to self-identity, from boys to wordplay. Chattarji also makes use of some unique devices, like offering voice instructions in some of her poems, which add to the overall sense of merriment. Some poems offer a largely Indian perspective and Indian references which don’t offer too much trouble, except when it comes to the series of food-centric poems. Highly entertaining as they are, for those that aren’t in the know of regional Indian delicacies, the poems might make lesser sense than Carroll’s Jabberwocky. Priya Kuriyan’s black-and-white illustrations highly add to the appeal of the book and their absence would have been sorely missed. Highly recommended.

You can read one of the poems here.

The Fried Frog And Other Funny
Freaky Foodie Feisty Poems

Sampurna Chattarji

Pages: 104

Price: INR 100

Publisher: Scholastic

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