The Elephant's Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India

The Elephant's Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India

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by Marcia Williams
     
 

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Step back into ancient India as Marcia Williams brings her inviting comic-book style to eight animal folktales that continue to enchant children today.

Have you heard about the elephant and the dog who became not just unlikely companions, but the best of friends? Or the traveler whose greed for gold lures him straight into the scrawny tiger’s trap? How

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Overview

Step back into ancient India as Marcia Williams brings her inviting comic-book style to eight animal folktales that continue to enchant children today.

Have you heard about the elephant and the dog who became not just unlikely companions, but the best of friends? Or the traveler whose greed for gold lures him straight into the scrawny tiger’s trap? How about the talkative tortoise who can’t keep his mouth closed to save his life? Drawing from three books of best-loved Indian folktales — Hitopadesha Tales, Jataka Tales, and Panchantra Tales — this graphic storybook collection, alive with kid-friendly illustrations, is infused with humor and warmth.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Whimsical, illustrated retellings of eight folktales... By breaking the plots down into comic booklike panels and relying on the symbols of sequential art, Williams makes these potentially unfamiliar tales accessible and fun for young readers... Matching the comic-book format, a sly thread of humor consistently runs through these tales... An enchanting addition to any folktale collection.
—School Library Journal

Funny, wise, and entertaining from first page to last.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Publishers Weekly
Williams turns to the classic stories of India in this companion to Ancient Egypt: Tales of Gods and Pharaohs (2011), with which it shares a comic book–style aesthetic. Food emerges as a frequent theme in eight stories of haves vs. have-nots and eat-or-be-eaten interactions: in one story, a hungry tiger persuades a man to cross a river to retrieve a lost bangle (“Here I come, my dear spicy friend,” says the tiger, meeting the man halfway). Williams frames her vibrant cartoon panels with thematic borders, the best of which features the ramblings of a loquacious turtle whose motormouth is his (literal) downfall. Funny, wise, and entertaining from first page to last. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Williams retells eight amusing traditional Indian folktales in her usual multi-frame comic book style, complete with both text and speech balloons. In the first, a dog becomes the friend of the king's favorite elephant. The elephant's keeper sells the dog but soon regrets it. The Scrawny Old Tiger outwits a greedy traveler. The Talkative Tortoise just cannot stop speaking even to save his life. In The Wise Little Pebet, the mother pebet must teach her little birds to fly before a cat can catch them. A swan with feathers of gold helps a poor woman and her daughters. But the mother's greed ends the gifts of The Golden Swan. In The Monkey and the Crocodile, the sneaky crocodile is outwitted by the clever monkey. The Foolish Lion, who greedily eats the forest creatures, is overcome by the wisdom of Wise Old Rabbit. Williams sets her humorous tales in distinctly different ornamental frames, with different colors, floral designs, and even characters related to the stories. Humans and animals are rendered quite small but recognizable in gouache and ink; the artist includes even smaller details to enhance the comic content with suggestions of Indian style and culture. Hand lettered titles introduce each story.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
With neon pink cover, humorous dialogue, jewel-like pictures, well-paced banner text, and her trademark comic-strip style, Williams adds many appealing touches to these traditional stories. The tales are adapted from three sets of ancient classical Indian literary sources: the Hitopadesha, the Panchatantra (note—this is misspelled in jacket copy), and the Buddhist Jataka tales. In the title story, an elephant and a dog become inseparable friends, as everyone who tries to part them soon finds out. The other stories feature an array of animal and human characters. A scrawny old tiger seeks spicy prey. A talkative tortoise gets his comeuppance, while the border art weaves in his perspective in a clever bit of metafictional commentary—after all, he cannot keep his mouth shut, so would he really let a narrator get away with telling his story unaided? From remote Manipur in the northeast of India comes the story of a wise mother bird, a pebet, who saves her babies from a predatory cat, leaving him with a gift that young readers are sure to find uproariously amusing. Some of the selections may be unfamiliar to some readers, e.g, the stories about the generous swan with feathers of gold, and the three large fish. Others, like the tales of the monkey and the crocodile, and the foolish lion, may feel familiar. Yet all are served up with the freshness of well-turned dialogue, a sure narrative voice, and luscious visual context. Other than the jacket copy reference, no specific story sources are indicated. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Whimsical, illustrated retellings of eight folktales. Though readers may not recognize these particular stories, well-known themes are all here, such as trickster characters (a rabbit convinces a lion to leap into a well to attack his own reflection in "The Foolish Lion"); tales of friendship (a dog and an elephant form an unlikely bond in the title story); and cautionary tales about greed (in "The Golden Swan," a woman plucks all the feathers from a bird, only to find them worthless in the end). By breaking the plots down into comic booklike panels and relying on the symbols of sequential art (a rain cloud over an elephant's head denotes anguish, action lines imply movement), Williams makes these potentially unfamiliar tales accessible and fun for young readers. Appropriately, characters are cartoonlike, with exaggerated facial expressions and postures. Busy, patterned backgrounds and intricate page borders rendered in brightly hued gouache and ink let these stories retain a traditional Indian tone. The text within the narration boxes and speech bubbles is concise. However, matching the comic-book format, a sly thread of humor consistently runs through these tales, such as a hungry crocodile breaking the fourth wall to quip, "Maybe I could eat a reader instead." Williams never skimps on the quirky details, and there's plenty to notice here on second and third readings. An enchanting addition to any folktale collection.—Mahnaz Dar, formerly at Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
Eight animal tales highlighting the value of cleverness and the hazards of greed are retold in Williams' signature breezy style. In the most familiar, "The Monkey and the Crocodile," she exonerates Crocodile (partially, at least) by endowing him with a nagging wife who demands Monkey's heart. In other tales, a golden bangle tempts an unwary traveler into the jaws of a "Scrawny Old Tiger," a kind "Golden Swan" ends up completely plucked after giving a feather to a needy but ungrateful woman, a canny rabbit convinces a "Foolish Lion" that a reflection at the bottom of a well is a rival lion, and, in the title story, a close if unlikely friendship that develops between a royal elephant and a stray dog survives a separation attempt. Grouped in sequential panels teeming with expressively drawn cartoon figures and framed within finely patterned borders, the illustrations glow with bright colors and brisk energy. Dropping in the occasional multisyllabic proper name for atmosphere and adding further zing with waggish side comments ("Maybe I could eat a reader instead!" mutters Crocodile's disappointed wife), Williams relates each fable economically and keeps the tone lighthearted even in the face of fatal consequences. Readers, wary or otherwise, could do far worse than dive into these witty, spirited renditions. (no source notes) (Graphic folktales. 8-11)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763670559
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
02/25/2014
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
628,622
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.40(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Whimsical, illustrated retellings of eight folktales... By breaking the plots down into comic booklike panels and relying on the symbols of sequential art, Williams makes these potentially unfamiliar tales accessible and fun for young readers... Matching the comic-book format, a sly thread of humor consistently runs through these tales... An enchanting addition to any folktale collection.
—School Library Journal

Funny, wise, and entertaining from first page to last.
—Publishers Weekly

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