BN.com Gift Guide

Karna: The Greatest Archer in the World

Overview

Features Karna, a brave and ambitious character from the epic Mahabharata, as famous for his generosity as for his skills with bow and arrow

• Introduces children to one of the most colorful characters of Hindu mythology

• Illustrated throughout with glowing full-color paintings in traditional Indian style

• Speaks to the questions that arise for adoptive children and their parents

When Princess Kunti is twelve years old she tries reciting a secret mantra for inviting the gods ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$14.06
BN.com price
(Save 11%)$15.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $2.57   
  • New (7) from $2.57   
  • Used (6) from $2.57   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...

Overview

Features Karna, a brave and ambitious character from the epic Mahabharata, as famous for his generosity as for his skills with bow and arrow

• Introduces children to one of the most colorful characters of Hindu mythology

• Illustrated throughout with glowing full-color paintings in traditional Indian style

• Speaks to the questions that arise for adoptive children and their parents

When Princess Kunti is twelve years old she tries reciting a secret mantra for inviting the gods into her life. She gets more than she bargained for when the Sun, himself, swoops down out of the sky in a golden chariot and presents her with a baby. “Take him back,” she cries. “I’m not ready to be a mother!” But it’s too late; the Sun says the baby is her responsibility now. However, he points out the child’s golden earrings and the golden shield upon his chest and tells Kunti that as long he wears them, the child will be protected. Kunti tearfully puts the baby in a basket and sets him afloat on the river, where Adhiratha and Radha, a poor and childless couple, find him and take him in.

Karna: The Greatest Archer in the World introduces the reader to the heroic but humanly flawed character of Karna, who grapples with issues of right and wrong, truth and lies, loyalty and abandonment. It tells how Radha helps her adoptive son, Karna, solve the mystery of his birth; how she and her husband give Karna the courage to follow his heart in the study of archery; how Karna faces his birth mother in the final days of his brief but brilliant life; and how his loyalty to a friend and his unparalleled generosity and sense of honor ultimately cause him to give his own life so that good may triumph over evil.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The Midwest Book Review
"A welcome introduction to other cultures for young readers, illustrated in a style reminiscent of traditional Indian artwork. . . . Highly recommended."
Sunitha Jayan
"The book is an excellent read. It addresses the problem faced by the adopted children who don't know their birth origin and are often discriminated."
Skipping Stones
"A skillful retelling of an old story!"
Shankerprasad S. Bhatt
" . . . such stories brought out from ancient Epic Mahabaharata will surely be helpful to all students who can learn the moral values of human life."
Children's Bookwatch
" . . . raises many issues of right, wrong, and loyalty and abandonment in a gentle folk story packed with insights perfect for discussion."
Venture Into Cultures
"Full of interesting characters and situations, the story is preceded by a useful cast of characters to help readers keep track of Karna's adventures. Colorful, traditional illustrations add interest to this long and detailed epic."
Awareness Magazine
"This action-packed story introduces children to the heroic but flawed Karna. The dramatic retelling of a traditional story from India's ancient epic, Mahabharata, will capture the imaginations of children everywhere."
Parsa Choudhury
"It introduces children to one of the most colorful characters of Hindu mythology, Karna, and his inner struggles. Karna, abandoned by his mother, encounters many issues, including knowing nothing about his adoptive or biological parents."
Nov 2007 The Midwest Book Review
"A welcome introduction to other cultures for young readers, illustrated in a style reminiscent of traditional Indian artwork. . . . Highly recommended."
Feminist Review Sunitha Jayan
"The book is an excellent read. It addresses the problem faced by the adopted children who don't know their birth origin and are often discriminated."
author Prayers of All Religions of the World (thre Shankerprasad S. Bhatt
" . . . such stories brought out from ancient Epic Mahabaharata will surely be helpful to all students who can learn the moral values of human life."
From the Publisher
" . . . raises many issues of right, wrong, and loyalty and abandonment in a gentle folk story packed with insights perfect for discussion."

" . . . such stories brought out from ancient Epic Mahabaharata will surely be helpful to all students who can learn the moral values of human life."

"A skillful retelling of an old story!"

"A welcome introduction to other cultures for young readers, illustrated in a style reminiscent of traditional Indian artwork. . . . Highly recommended."

"Full of interesting characters and situations, the story is preceded by a useful cast of characters to help readers keep track of Karna's adventures. Colorful, traditional illustrations add interest to this long and detailed epic."

"It introduces children to one of the most colorful characters of Hindu mythology, Karna, and his inner struggles. Karna, abandoned by his mother, encounters many issues, including knowing nothing about his adoptive or biological parents."

"The book is an excellent read. It addresses the problem faced by the adopted children who don't know their birth origin and are often discriminated."

"This action-packed story introduces children to the heroic but flawed Karna. The dramatic retelling of a traditional story from India's ancient epic, Mahabharata, will capture the imaginations of children everywhere."

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Part of the publisher's "Classic Indian Stories for Children" series of tales retold from Hindu mythic tradition (other titles include Hanuman's Journey to Medicine Mountain and How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head), this story is drawn from the epic poem known as the Mahabharata. Karna the archer is a fascinating character. His birth, due to an immaculate conception in the original story, is here rendered tidily for a child audience, devoid of some of its specific overtones. Placed in a basket to float down a river, the baby is adopted by a charioteer and his wife. His fate, however, compels him in the form of prescient dreams. He studies archery with the sage Parashuram, and in time must face the hero who alone can contest his claim to being the world's greatest archer. The larger story of fratricidal war that lies at the heart of the Mahabharata forms a looming backdrop here. The evocative story of Karna is filled with contradictions, ethical dilemmas, and large philosophical questions. Sperling takes on this multilayered, complex tale and extracts it from its embedded structure, presenting it as a story that manages to stand alone. Her writing is smooth and simple, and the story remains true to classic translations such as C. Rajagopalachari's, while demonstrating the author's awareness of the interpretative work needed in conveying it to a contemporary audience of young readers. An author note is included. Illustrations by Sandeep Johari are in the tradition of the late Harish Johari, whose work was an amalgam of old and new, with classic temple-inspired imagery as its foundation. The art seems to draw as well on the bright comic-book styles made popular in India in the1960s. The usual consumable "coloring" page is tacked on. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591430735
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Publication date: 11/15/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Vatsala Sperling, Ph.D., fluent in a number of Indian ­languages and Sanskrit, learned these ­traditional stories at her mother’s feet and enjoys introducing them to children of the Western world. Before marrying and moving to the United States, she was the chief of Clinical Microbiological Services at the largest children’s hospital in India. She is the author of How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head, How Parvati Won the Heart of Shiva, Ram the Demon Slayer, and Hanuman’s Journey to the Medicine Mountain. She lives in Vermont with her husband and son.

Sandeep Johari was raised by his uncle Harish Johari, who taught him classical Indian painting. He used a traditional wash technique for the illustrations in Karna, combining transparent watercolors and opaque tempera paints in a multi-step process for each painting. He also illustrated Hanuman’s Journey to the Medicine Mountain and is the creative director in an advertising agency in New Delhi, India.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

About Karna

The Mahabharata is an ancient epic from India that tells of a war between two branches of a royal family. The five Pandava princes fight for justice, goodness, and fairness, while their greedy cousin Duryodhana and his ninety-nine siblings represent the darker side of human nature. Half human and half god, Karna is a member of this warring family, but he doesn’t know it because he has been abandoned at birth.

Adopted by a poor couple, Adhiratha and Radha, Karna is raised with love. Though his adoptive parents know nothing of weapons and warfare, they give Karna the courage to follow his heart’s desire—to become the greatest archer in the world. In return, he honors them above all others despite their humble means. In their loving home, Karna learns to trust his own generous heart when faced with life’s difficult decisions. His heart tells him that promises are meant for keeping and life is meant for giving. Though he always tries to do the right thing, Karna, like all of us, makes mistakes. In the end, his mistakes cost him his very life but they never cost him his honor. He is remembered in India to this day as the greatest archer and the most generous person ever born.

A long time ago, a beautiful young princess named Kunti lived with her uncle, King Kuntibhoj, in a lovely palace along the banks of a wide river. One day when she was twelve years old her uncle said to her, “Kunti, an important visitor will be arriving soon. Sage Durvasa is very learned and we are honored to receive him as our royal guest, but he’s well known for his terrible temper. Child, I’m asking you to make sure all his needs are taken care of. Give him no reason at all to become angry. Please do be careful, Kunti, the future of my kingdom depends on you. Sage Durvasa has the power to put terrible curses on anyone who displeases him!”

“Yes, Uncle,” Kunti promised, and soon she turned herself into the most perfect hostess. She almost read Sage Durvasa’s mind, meeting his every need before he realized anything was wanting. The sage had a very peaceful and happy stay and wanted to reward Kunti for her services. He studied her face and used his magic powers to see into her future. “Child,” he said, “one day you will need the help of the gods. I am going to teach you a secret mantra for inviting the gods into your life. Be very careful with this mantra! Use it wisely.” Kunti repeated the syllables after him. She promised to use the mantra only in times of great need.

But she was only twelve, after all, and a lively and curious girl. Early the next morning she was playing by herself in the royal garden. The sun had risen and Kunti watched as its rays touched a fl ower here, a leaf there. She felt its warmth on her skin. She thought about the Sun God, waking up the whole world. I wonder . . . she thought. I wonder if the Sun would come to me. Forgetting her promise to Durvasa, she began to recite the mantra. She closed her eyes and concentrated the way she had been taught. Soon her body became prickly hot, as if she were sitting by a fire. She could hear the fire roar and crackle! She opened her eyes to see a glowing chariot swooping down from the heavens, pulled by seven horses—and the Sun God himself driving them! “You called me,” Sun said, stepping from the carriage with a baby in his arms. “You called me,” he said again, placing the baby in her lap, “and I bring you my son.”

Kunti looked at the baby. Oh no! she thought. What have I done? “Sun,” she wailed, “I am only twelve years old! I didn’t know what I was doing. Please! Take your baby away!” Her cries mingled with the cries of the infant in her lap. “Please! I am not ready to be a mother!”

“You used the sacred mantra,” the Sun God replied. “The baby is your responsibility now. But I leave him with divine gifts. Look—he has a set of golden earrings and a golden shield on his chest. They will grow with him. So long as he wears them, he cannot be killed.” He sped off into the morning sky, leaving poor Kunti alone with a newborn babe in her arms.

She was panic-stricken. What a string of curses Sage Durvasa would hurl at her now! She would live in shame! Who would ever believe her? Then she looked again at the baby, squirming in her arms, shimmering with celestial light just like his father. She rocked him gently. His cries calmed, and she realized that she had stopped crying too. “Alas, I cannot be your mother,” she said sadly. “I am much too young. I will have to let you go.”

She found a sturdy basket, some wax, and cloth of the softest silk. She coated the basket with the wax to make it waterproof, and lined it with layers of the silk to make it soft and warm. She placed the baby carefully in his new bed and carried the basket to the river. Then she kissed him good-bye and set the basket afl oat. “Farewell,” she whispered. “May the Sun god watch over you always and keep you safe. May you fi nd parents who will love you and care for you. I will always remember you.”

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)