Growing up did you have a nickname? Though I went by my given name at school, at home it was shortened to the first letter by my mom (full name was for being in trouble. And when the middle name was added? Don’t ask!) and my sister and I had a few nicknames for each other (that occasionally we still use to get the others attention). So, nicknames are things that happen and can be a good thing. But can they be an issue, too?
Like what if your name was Zimdalamashkermishkada? That mouthful of a name trips up our main character in this picture book. And of course, his new classmates and teacher have trouble with it, too. Therefore, the natural nickname of Zim happens from his classmates. Yet, things are still not right. He asks his mother to change his name, but she tells him to let people have a chance to learn his name, and to remember why he was named that. In the symbolism of Zimdalamashkermishkada learning, and his new friend Elly teaching skateboarding, all characters and readers see how a name is special and it just takes practice to learn, just like a good skateboarding trick.
Sandhya Parappukkaran celebrates their Kerala Indian heritage in The Boy Wo Tried to Shrink His Name. They also allow a bit of food to slip onto the page to show some of the culture our character is celebrating. And this is illustrated by Michelle Pereira’s illustrations. They are clever as Zimdalamashkermishkada tries to fold his name like origami, or shrink it in the dryer, but it will blow up like a scared puffer fish or exploded out. And the are not overly crowded, but they fill the spaces, but where they are spaces, those are important, too. It might sound like I do not like this book when I say they are nice, but they are not the “plop-it-down-flat-nice” but the smooth-slide-nice.
We fit the CBR15Passport other country with the fact Parappukkaran lives in Brisbane and we see the authors culture represented.