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Ocean of Story: Fairy Tales from India

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A twelfth-century Sanskrit parallel to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Princess and the Pea" is just one of the surprises in this unusual collection of fairy tales from the Indian subcontinent. There are animal fables that recall both Aesop and Uncle Remus, and long wonder tales with all the strange enchantment of the Arabian Nights. Wily peasants, scheming rajahs, and saintly brahmans mingle in stories full of spice and wit. Luck and fate are the chief concerns, but magic and ...

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Overview

A twelfth-century Sanskrit parallel to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Princess and the Pea" is just one of the surprises in this unusual collection of fairy tales from the Indian subcontinent. There are animal fables that recall both Aesop and Uncle Remus, and long wonder tales with all the strange enchantment of the Arabian Nights. Wily peasants, scheming rajahs, and saintly brahmans mingle in stories full of spice and wit. Luck and fate are the chief concerns, but magic and bravery play their part as well.

These nineteen stories have been selected with an introduction and notes by folklorist Neil Philip, and retold for today's children by Caroline Ness. Jacqueline Mair's richly detailed illustrations draw on her experience travelling and studying in India to produce a book that is vibrant with life and full of the scents and colors of India.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Too many retellings of folktales from India are shoddily researched and culturally inconsistent. Happily, this beautifully illustrated collection from diverse sources is an exception. Borrowing the title from a 12th century compilation of popular lore, Ness has retold these stories with zest, pith, and concern for their cultural context. The sources are painstakingly documented, and the notes provide details and comparisons to other variants of the stories that teachers will find useful. Mair's illustrations glow with color and light. The artist spent time studying in India. It shows. The stories themselves are rollicking entertainment: people metamorphose into animals and back again; crooks get their just desserts; and we can almost hear the old storyteller's grandmother "talk talk talk, mera bapre (O my father)... till all the children got quite tired and fell asleep."
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-An intriguing collection of 18 stories, taken primarily from the oral tradition collected at the end of the 19th century. Skillfully retold for contemporary readers, the tales range in length from 1-15 pages, and represent a variety of cultures. Some selections will surprise readers accustomed to just and happy endings, while others reverse the sex roles common in Western fairy tales. The "Three Fussy Men" describes a contest among brothers to determine who is the most sensitive and refined. In "The Blacksmith's Daughter," a young girl matches wits with a king and his prime ministers. Shorter tales include a pourquoi story that explains why the tiger cannot climb trees, and several fables. While these selections are distinctly Indian in flavor, many readers will enjoy discovering similarities to the tales of the Brothers Grimm, Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, the Arabian Nights, and others. Mair's vibrant, richly patterned full-page paintings and delightful spot illustrations transport children to a magical country of long ago, where purple elephants fly, golden palaces rise miraculously out of the sea, and princes and princesses seek their destiny with the help of talking parrots and enchanted rings. Source notes and a list of books for further reading are appended.-Kristin Lott, East Brunswick Public Library, NJ
Janice del Negro
Drawing on turn-of-the-century collections, Ness retells 18 tales from India's oral tradition. The diverse assortment includes tales ranging from complex and lengthy to short and sweet, and Jacqueline Mair's illustrations, glowing with bright blues and pinks, are reminiscent of Indian textile art. The collection is unusual because it draws tales from Indian folklore traditions rather than from classical sources such as the "Jatakas", but as folklorist Neil Philip notes in his introduction, the overlap is great, and the tales are all part of "the ocean of story" that surrounds us. Sources are appended as are suggestions for further reading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688135843
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 7 years
  • Product dimensions: 7.75 (w) x 10.32 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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