Interview with author Sandhya Parappukkaran – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Sandhya Parappukkaran, author of The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name which is illustrated by Michelle Pereira and is a Bright Light 2021 publication by Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing.

About Sandhya Parappukkaran

Sandhya Parappukkaran left her job as a Food Technologist so she could put her feet up and read. Then she rediscovered her passion for children’s books. She writes stories with themes of ‘embracing your cultural identity’ inspired by her South Indian heritage. Sandhya resides in Brisbane with her husband, three children and a backyard brimming with mango trees, curry leaves and green chillies.

About The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name

No-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.

When Zimdalamashkermishkada starts a new school, he knows he’s got to do something about his long name.

When no amount of shrinking, folding or crumpling works, he simply settles for Zim — but deep down, it doesn’t feel right.

It’s not until a new friend sees him for who he is that Zimdalamashkermishkada finds the confidence to step boldly into his name.

What I like about The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name

This is a beautiful book about culture and identity, about accepting ourselves and respecting others. As the blurb says, ‘No-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.’ Our names are an essential part of who we are.

In Australia, people often take liberties with the names of others, lengthening some, shortening others or creating a nickname from their parts, often without asking permission. Over the years, many from migrant families have Anglicised their names to make it easier for the English-speaking population to pronounce.

In both a profound and subtle way, through her story, Sandhya Parappukkaran shows us the importance of respect for others and their culture by something as simple, but significant, as learning to pronounce their names correctly.

Even Zimdalamashkermishkada had difficulty pronouncing his name. When his new friend Elly shortened it to Zim, he asked his mother if he could do the same. She explained, ‘We named you after the coconut trees that stretch high and hold up the sky while sheltering all underneath’, and she asked him to ‘Give people a chance to say it right.’

So, he does. As Elly teaches Zimdalamashkermishkada to skateboard, he teaches her to pronounce his name.

Continue reading: Interview with author Sandhya Parappukkaran – readilearn

17 thoughts on “Interview with author Sandhya Parappukkaran – #readilearn

  1. Patricia Tilton

    A very important story about culture and being true to yourself. But, if I had a name that I couldn’t even pronounce, I know how I’d feel. His name has a beautiful meaning and it exaggerates the point of how DO you embrace your name and culture! Great interview too!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Patricia. You make a good point. Zimdalamashkermishkada could pronounce his name. I think he just felt it would take a long time to say. He taught us to say it in the book and I was proud that I could both pronounce it and spell it by the time I’d written up the interview.

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  2. petespringerauthor

    What a great idea to write a book about this topic. I remember sitting through a painful elementary school assembly where the principal butchered name after name in front of the kids and their parents when she passed out awards. The younger kids (five and six-year-olds) yelled out, correcting her mispronunciations. This, in turn, made a few of the older children laugh. Not to excuse the children’s role in this, but what a horrible message it sent to the parents that the principal didn’t even know the children’s names.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      I agree with you so much about that, Pete. Even if the principal doesn’t know each of the children (though principals really should make a point of it), they should know how to pronounce their names before they read them out. It is simple courtesy. The schools I taught in were very multicultural and I saw instances of what you describe too. I felt very embarrassed by the principal’s lack of regard for their children and their families. It wasn’t a good role model at all.

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