CHENNAI: Walking on the terrace with her Math book in one hand and Kutti’s leash in the other, Parvathy nervously tried to finish her Math homework. When she stumbled upon the eternally difficult problem — six plus three — Parvathy looked at the dog for help. Kutti wagged his tail thrice and Parvathy counted along, reaching the answer nine, and happily noted it down in her book.
The Dog Who Taught Me Math, written by Sonali Shenoy and illustrated by Tanvi Bhatt, depicts the relationship between Parvathy, a young girl, and Kutti, her uncle’s retired army dog, in a simple and beautiful way. The book was published earlier this year by Ms Moochie Books.
Sonali works as a journalist with a renowned newspaper. “In 2011, I was working on a story for which I visited CP Arts Centre in Alwarpet. It was called the ‘Doctor Dog Programme’, where a dog with a docile personality would interact with special children. Over there, I saw Moosa, a three-year-old black Labrador, spend an hour with the children. The kids were learning how to count by taking steps along with the dog. Moosa would sit patiently while the kids taught basic principles of Math to it. That inspired me to write the book,” she said.
Writing the book over the course of a year, the Chennai-based writer, who is a dog lover, based the story on her own struggles with the subject.
The characters in the book are based on people from Sonali’s childhood. She did not want to include fantasy elements or preachy segments in her book as she knew children would not resonate with it. Sonali instead wanted children to see the limitless possibilities and scenarios that were open to them. “Writing a book is so different from journalism is very intimate. It was so exciting to start writing and talking about the book, and dreaming about how it would turn out,” said Sonali.