May 21, 2024

Coral Woman by Lubaina Bandukwala based on Uma Mani

The latest book that we have reviewed brings in the hope that you can achieve what you want in life, no matter what age you are at.

Based on the life of Uma Mani, a homemaker, a brilliant artist and also now a professional diver, the book inspires a lot of women.

Published by HarperCollins, the book is indeed one of a kind on India’s coral reefs and the dangers they face which in turn impact marine life.The colourful book has illustrations by Sanket Pethkar.

One of the chapters title states The Goddess from Under the Sea. It seems so apt that Uma who in real life seems far away from the world of fashion or glamour but is knowledgeable on a niche area and she is a resource and inspiration for many women who feels dreams get buried.

The book has many contributions from children who have written on Uma’s life. What we also found interesting was the information shared in the book on corals, marine life, destinations where they are found and even on how to grow a coral.

We happenned to have an email interaction with the author Lubaina and here is an excerpt.

Author of Coral Woman- Lubaina Bandukwala

What made you decide that a book needs to be written on Uma Mani?

Coral Woman is a film made by Priya Thuvassary on Uma the person and corals and their importance in our world. Asad Laljee of Avid Learning wanted to take the message to children and he asked me to work on it. I was immediately attracted to the story of a woman who followed her dreams as well as the whole world of Indian coral reefs that have not been written about a lot in Indian children’s books.

2) The book is brilliant in its narration and colourful illustrations. However, the book seems to target women or moms who give up dreams after a certain age. Do you think young women, teens, girls can draw inspiration from this book.

Picture books are not only for small children. In this case, the subject lends itself to an incredible visual experience, hence the format we chose was a picture book. Uma’s story is inspirational in that all of us in our regular lives have the opportunity to do something extraordinary only if we find the courage to do it. Her story can strike a chord with women of all ages who might have a dream – something that is special to them – and may hesitate to give themselves an opportunity to fulfill it. To tell this story, I worked with Sanket so that the words and pictures could convey the gamut of emotions and the joy of discovery in parallel but complimentary ways. Additionally, since our goal was to create awareness about coral reefs it was important to present their beauty visually.

3) You do take us into an underwater world with the story. Did you check them yourself or is it through your interaction, you have sketched the story.

I personally have seen the beauty of the reef while snorkeling in Thailand and Sri Lanka. However, for this book, I experienced the undersea world vicariously through Priya’s fabulous film and Uma’s evocative descriptions.

4) Many children have written on Ms. Uma’s life and on topics related to reefs, corals, pollution. What have kids felt while reading the book?

We have had the most heartening reactions to the book. They respond to Uma’s child-like curiosity and her sincerity in promoting a mindful lifestyle to help the environment. They are also always amazed that there are so many coral reefs in India!

5) Anything specific you want to share why kids and adults should read the Coral Woman.

As a book itself, it is a beautiful piece of art to look at. I hope it will inspire us all to support the dreams of all the women around us, no matter how old or young they are. I would like kids to explore corals to discover our oceans – corals as we say in the book are nature’s thermometer and give us an indication of the health of the seas. And finally to understand that everything on our planet is connected and irresponsible environmental lifestyles even away from the coast can damage corals and affect the seas. For example deforestation can cause global warming that causes coral bleaching; plastic thrown in a mountain stream will find its way into the ocean. So no matter where you live, one must live mindfully.

You can also watch the documentary here

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