Written by Melcom
The book “Once Upon a feast” is published by Bookworm written by Mia Maria Lourenco and illustrated by Fatema Barot Mota.
When I read this book, I immediately connected to it because the feast of St. Francis Xavier was around the corner and this gave me a perfect opportunity to choose to read aloud this book at Libraries in School (LiS) and Mobile Outreach Programme (MOP). I was keen to read aloud this book because both LiS and MOP classes are very diverse in terms of culture, religion, language .
The book defiantly does not gives us any information about how a feast is conducted or what are the things done during feast time but it gives us this rich experience of this young girl call Aquina who have a lovely memories during the feast of St. Francis Xavier. And in that way, we get information about feasts.
When I read this book in the class, I first began to unpack the meaning of the word “feast”. Children began saying toy shop, games, mass, sweet shop; some also said giant wheel etc. These words were all associated with a typical Goan feast. If you happen to witness say for example St. Francis Xavier feast ae Old Goa, than you will see the amount of food stalls, game stalls, clothes and other accessory stalls lined up along the streets.
In my first class most of the children were Muslim or Hindu and interestingly they have been to a St. Francis Xavier feast and every year their parents buy stuff for them there. Everybody took this book positively and was able to associate with it without any problem.
If anybody happen to read this book, it gives some vocabulary words that are directly associated to catholic church such as sacristan, choir, catechism teacher which children did not know the meaning of if not Christian . Those who were catholic knew about this. I however, explained and the children understood the words from the context of the story.
The children also all fell in love with Brownie, who starts the story with, “ Owwwwoooooo .”
At the MOP sites in Cacra, children connected to the story very well and were interested with the story of St. Francis Xavier. They really asked me who he was, how he came to Goa and how he died and how his body is not decomposed. Their curiosity was to be appreciated. In both the cases, the children enjoyed this book and also enjoyed the character of Aquina and her dog. The illustrations of this book are very powerful and have really gripped the children into the book. There was actually no need for extra information. Truly, I shall really recommend this book to all people of Goa, and India to kindly read the book and I am sure you too will enjoy this book as much as I and our children have enjoyed.