Review: The Katha Chest

The Kartha Chest is the first picture book to ever celebrate Bangladeshi culture.

Each visit to Nanu’s house is a voyage of discovery for Asiya. The thing that thrills her the most is The Katha Chest. It is filled to the brim with quilts made from layers of worn saris. These have been collected over the years by her Grandmother.

When the family is gathered together, the quilts are taken out of the chest to be indicators for the stories that are shared. Priceless history is passed down by word of mouth like heirlooms handed to new generations, to preserve and pass on.

That time is supremely special. It is the opportunity for the aunts to tell stories of their past, their personal lives and experiences, customs and traditions.

These stories are all woven into the quilts, absorbed by the fabric that has heard the tales so many times. The swirling colours and patterns are held together with golden threads, conserving the history of their family line.

Bora Khala’s medals from the war are represented by the circles on the fabrics. They help recall how he left his wife alone with his children, to return after too many years.

Stunning wordless double spreads, depict the lives of Asiya’s family in framed illustrations of stunning colour, encompassing all that has gone on before and all that will continue to be.

The Katha Chest superbly addresses the Bangladeshi culture, but simultaneously speaks for all multicultural traditions that every migrant carries inside them, and the importance of preserving all the beautiful and meaningful customs that have been proudly handed down for years.

Truly an outstanding publication, this exceptional picture book will be of interest to every child regardless of their background.

Title: The Katha Chest
Author: Radhiah Chowdhury
Illustrator: Lavanya Naidu
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $ 24.99
Publication Date: 30 March 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760524326
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book

May 2, 2021 at 11:05AM Anastasia Gonis