Ancient India

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—From South Asia and the ancient Near East come these exciting tales of great heroes and memorable deities who are fully as interesting as the Greek myths currently in vogue. With plenty of framing text, the stories inspire the imagination, entertain, and allow readers to draw their own conclusions about the universality of human experience. The language is straightforward but has enough variation in sentence structure to keep the reading lively. Pronunciation help is provided. Liberally illustrated with large and vibrant reproductions of artwork in diverse media, the books reflect the grace and opulence of these ancient cultures as well as the more vividly grotesque expressions of imagination. Margins and text spacing are generous, with accents in copper and bronze hues consonant with the antiquity of the stories. It can be tricky relating the traditional stories of a living faith such as Hinduism or Zoroastrianism, and this is reflected in occasional conflict between "is" and "was" in discussions of beliefs and practices, especially in Ancient India. Anita Nair's The Puffin Book of Magical Indian Myths (2008) covers some of the same territory as that book, and in a fancier package, but Persians truly fills a gap.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
This exploration of ancient stories from India opens with prefatory material about the magic of myths, which also serves to guide the reader through the structure of the book and the use of sidebars and back matter. The first part of the book is devoted to the geography of India, the ancient history of the Indian subcontinent from the Indus Valley civilization through the end of the Gupta Empire, and elements of Hinduism including ancient origins, beliefs, the caste system, and life stages. Part 2 consists of retold stories, lavishly illustrated with reproductions of paintings and photographs of sculptures in a number of artistic styles. The stories themselves are simply narrated with only as much dialogue as is needed to carry them forward. Explanatory text is provided for each, although placing that after each story instead of before it might have been more intuitive and effective. As it is, the explanations run the risk of deflating reader interest in the text. The stories include the creation cycle, three Vishnu incarnation tales (the Vamana, Rama, and Krishna avatars), Durga slaying the buffalo demon, and how Ganesha got his elephant head. A final chapter relates two Jataka tales, stories from the Buddha's past lives. Back matter includes a glossary, source notes, additional readings, and an index. The pronunciation guides for character names are unreliable. Part of the publisher's "Myths of the World" series; other titles include The Ancient Africans, The Aztecs, and The Norsemen. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531168462
  • Publisher: Scholastic Library Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Series: People of the Ancient World
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 11 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

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