Balarama: A Royal Elephant

Balarama: A Royal Elephant

by Ted Lewin, Betsy Lewin
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Elephants, the largest land animals on Earth, have long been a part of life throughout India. Some of these huge creatures are trained to do heavy work. Others perform in public festivals. When Ted and Betsy Lewin arrive in southern India to see the elephants, they are introduced to Drona, the Royal Elephant that leads the glorious procession on the last day of

…  See more details below

Overview

Elephants, the largest land animals on Earth, have long been a part of life throughout India. Some of these huge creatures are trained to do heavy work. Others perform in public festivals. When Ted and Betsy Lewin arrive in southern India to see the elephants, they are introduced to Drona, the Royal Elephant that leads the glorious procession on the last day of Dasara, a centuries-old festival celebrated each fall.

The Lewins are so enthralled with Drona that they decide to return the following year for Dasara. They arrive to find out that Drona has been in an accident and a new lead elephant, the majestic Balarama, has been chosen. This will be his first time carrying the golden howdah—a beautifully carved ceremonial carriage—in the grand finale parade of the Dasara festivities. All eyes will be on Balarama as he makes his debut.

With exciting narrative and vividly colored paintings, Ted and Betsy Lewin invite readers to meet the elephants up close and to participate in the wonderful spectacle of the last day of Dasara. This is an adventure no one will want to miss.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rich watercolors and as-it-happens writing bring the story of India's royal elephants into sharp focus. On the Lewins' (Gorilla Walk) first trip to India, they hear about Drona, a beloved elephant chosen to head the parade of a religious festival. When they meet Drona face-to-face, they agree: “He is magnificent. We feel his aura strongly.” But between their first trip and their second, Drona is killed in an accident, and the focus shifts to Balarama, the newly chosen lead elephant. How will Balarama cope with the noise and the crowds? The Lewins' watercolor spreads emphasize India's brilliant light, deep purple shadows and the way the elephants dwarf their human handlers. They are honest about the cruelty of past capture methods, but include anecdotes to offset the story's sober moments (as when Drona tips over a truck carrying bananas “and ate all but one case”). Loose sketchbook spots appear intermittently, which will either provide light relief or distract from the more ambitious and realistic spreads. Still, for a clear view of a tradition dating back centuries, it's a valuable contribution. Ages 6–11. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
We join the Lewins in southern India as they visit an elephant camp and meet the mighty Drona, the lead Royal Elephant in the maharaja of Mysore's parade in the festival of Dasara. They decide to return for the parade but learn, to their sorrow, that Drona has died. The elephant chosen to replace him and carry the golden howdah is Balarama. The preparations for the parade are vividly described and depicted, as is the dressing of Balarama. Despite concern, Balaram performs beautifully in the spectacle, a worthy successor to Drona. Both artists use watercolors deftly to record the events. Ted's double-page scenes are replete with naturalistic details of both the elephants and the street action and architecture. The spectacular pomp is recorded with obvious appreciation and affection. Betsy uses her sketchy black ink lines for less lavish mini-dramas, like the group of children listening to an oft-told tale of a mischievous elephant, or those playing an impromptu game. She also records some of the dances that accompany the formal parades. These smaller images expand our understanding of the spirit of the spectacle, giving a more human dimension. The vision of each of these artists supplements that of the other for a complete interpretation. The end pages alone are knockouts. There is a map and an extensive introduction, plus additional facts about the elephants and a glossary and pronunciation guide. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—The Lewins continue their accounts of their worldwide adventures, here with two voyages to southern India. On their first trip, they visited a camp of trained elephants and their handlers in the forest and learned of the royal elephants used for festivals. They met Drona, who was to lead the annual Dasara procession in Mysore in the fall, and they were so enraptured that they decided to return for the festival. Upon their arrival, they learned that Drona had died, and that a new elephant had been chosen to lead the procession. Ted Lewin's brilliant, realistic watercolors capture the sun-drenched pageantry of Mysore as well as the dusty, filtered light of the forest, while Betsy Lewin's lively cartoons aptly depict the action and personalities involved. The story has pathos and tension, and the Lewins' narration takes readers into the forest, to the grounds of the maharaja's pale palace, along the parade route, and eye-to-eye with the majestic animals. Facts about elephants and brief biographies of some of the royal elephants are a welcome addition, and a glossary—with pronunciation help—is provided. If the art doesn't grab chidren, the elephants surely will. Wonderful.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
Kirkus Reviews
On a tour of southern India, the authors are so entranced by Drona, the lead Royal Elephant of the maharaja of Mysore, and the stories his mahout (trainer) tells that the celebrated children's-book duo decides to return to southern India for the Dasara festival in order to see Drona lead an annual ceremonial procession. As in the pair's earlier Gorilla Walk (1999), illustration styles are mixed here, from Ted Lewin's rich, layered watercolors to Betsy Lewin's funny, sketchy vignettes. The artists' return is bittersweet: Drona has met with an untimely end but will be replaced by Balarama, another magnificent elephant that will bear the weight of the ceremonial howdah for the first time. An extended snapshot of the animal, its care and importance to the people of India, the book provides a pleasing mixture of the authors' observations, descriptions of local traditions and a stately depiction of the great beast, all holding together nicely in a flowing narrative. (map, endnotes, glossary) (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781600602658
Publisher:
Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
09/01/2009
Series:
Adventures Around the World Series: The Travelogues of Ted and Betsy Lewin
Pages:
56
Sales rank:
717,459
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x (h) x 11.00(d)
Lexile:
NC910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >