The Flute

Overview

In this beautiful picturebook written by Governor General's Award-winning author Rachna Gilmore and illustrated by India's most renowned illustrator, Pulak Biswas, a little girl nearly drowns when a swollen river overflows its banks. Tragically, her beloved mother and father are swept away in the flood. Raised by a cruel and uncaring aunt and uncle, the little girl finds solace in her mother's magic flute. The Flute is an enchanting tale of the power of hope and the resilience ...
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Overview

In this beautiful picturebook written by Governor General's Award-winning author Rachna Gilmore and illustrated by India's most renowned illustrator, Pulak Biswas, a little girl nearly drowns when a swollen river overflows its banks. Tragically, her beloved mother and father are swept away in the flood. Raised by a cruel and uncaring aunt and uncle, the little girl finds solace in her mother's magic flute. The Flute is an enchanting tale of the power of hope and the resilience of the human spirit.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Calling to mind natural disasters that have befallen Asia in recent years—the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, flooding in Pakistan—Gilmore (The Sower of Tales) tells a story that grows grim before it gets better. Its subject, Chandra, endures tragedies tempered by Biswas’s gently shaded charcoal drawings, accented with bright blue and red. Chandra’s mother places her in a tree when the floods come and gives the girl her precious flute to keep; Chandra never sees her parents again. Yet the flute—the symbol of her mother’s undying love—provides her with food after her cruel aunt and uncle withhold it (“a plantain leaf appeared, laden with rice, lentils and eggplant”). It plays music to comfort her, delivers monsoon rains at just the right moment, then saves her from another flood (“It was a rope, tight and strong. Chandra pulled herself along it, with the flute urging her on”). Chandra is a strong yet realistically vulnerable figure who withstands adversity without appearing too saintly, while the magic that saves her offers some compensation for the misfortune she has suffered. Ages 3–6. (Feb.)
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"This beautifully written and illustrated story is reminiscent of a folkloric tale, sweeping us away in the pains, struggles and the hopes of Chandra's young life in an exotic land. Each page we turn we want to learn more about her, to the point of wanting to pluck her out of the book to help her...Rachna Gilmore's enchanting story of hope and Pulak Biswas' simple east Asian rural scenes flow with depth and grace just was the waters of the river in its calm spring stream. The graceful language is complimented in charcoal and ink textured monochromatic illustrations with hints of primary hues...This inspiring book is sure to be a permanent fixture in any library and one to hand down from generation to generation."
The Globe and Mail
"Pulak Biswas, one of India's most distinguished illustrators, displays his gifts in the striking woodblock prints coloured in red, blue, black and the occasional burst of sunny yellow, that both complement and enhance Rachna Gilmore's beautifully cadenced prose...[An] emotionally powerful tale...delivering a satisfying and happy resolution."
lovereading4kids.co.uk
"Full of hope springing from adversity, this is a touching story elegantly told, whose mood is captured in beautifully evocative illustrations."
— Julia Eccleshare
Midwest Book Review
"Ornamented and further interpreted with stunning black and white paintings with vivid splashes of red for Chandra's dress, blue for the river, and yellow for the overlooking moon. This author/illustrator team is first class and deserves further high awards for artistry, authenticity and design."
www.lovereading4kids.co.uk
Full of hope springing from adversity, this is a touching story elegantly told, whose mood is captured in beautifully evocative illustrations.
— Julia Eccleshare
www.lovereading4kids.co.uk - Julia Eccleshare
"Full of hope springing from adversity, this is a touching story elegantly told, whose mood is captured in beautifully evocative illustrations."
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
"Long ago and far away," a baby girl is born and named Chandra after the full moon. As she grows, she works in the fields with her parents. Each evening they go to the banks of the nearby river, where her mother plays wonderful music on her old wooden flute. One year a terrible flood washes her parents away. Taken in by her cruel aunt and uncle, Chandra fades away. She still has her mother's flute, but her uncle tosses it into the river. During a summer drought, Chandra hears the flute; then food miraculously arrives for her. When the monsoon comes, Chandra's uncle pushes her into the flood. Chandra hears the flute and discovers a rope to pull herself ashore. Then the flute is in her hand. As she plays, a man and woman who have lost their son invite her to be their daughter. Happily she joins them, playing "of the hope and enduring strength of the moon." On the cover, Chandra plays the flute in a red dress along an undulating blue river. But this peaceful scene is challenged on the end pages, which are totally covered by storm clouds and streams of raindrops. The few human characters and these forces of nature play out the story. Biswas uses only textured black, blue, and red to create the naturalistic but stylized drama in scenes that exude emotion. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—This tale set in India follows a girl whose mother plays the most beautiful flute music in the world. When floodwaters claim both of her parents, orphaned Chandra is taken in and badly treated by her cruel relatives. Her spirit endures by playing her mother's flute, and the sad tones reflect what she is feeling in her heart. Her uncle gets tired of hearing the music and flings the instrument into the river. When a drought comes, her relatives blame their misfortunes on her. Rains finally come and Chandra is swept away by the surging waters. She is sure she is going to drown when she hears the beautiful strains of a flute playing. She reaches out and grabs on to the flute and is pulled safely to shore. There she meets a young woman and her husband who invite her to be their daughter. It is then that the sad tones disappear and the music of her mother returns. The story reads like a folktale, and the striking, somewhat stylized artwork fits that tone. Despite its magical elements, this is really a story of hope and resilience in the face of hardship and loss.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews
With elements reminiscent of many different stories, this original tale features a beloved young girl named Chandra (moon in Hindi) who loses her parents in a terrible flood during monsoon season. The Cinderella-like orphan is grudgingly taken in by her mean aunt and uncle, but she is denied adequate food and forced to work hard. Her only pleasure is playing her mother's flute, put into her hands as her parents saved her from the raging river, but her cruel relatives take the little instrument. Chandra, who never loses hope, hears the flute and begins to find a daily meal of rice, lentils and eggplant. As everyone else starves during the drought-ridden season, she is accused of using "unholy magic," and her uncle purposely pushes her into the next monsoon's floodwaters. Miraculously, the flute sounds again, and the girl follows its sound until a rope pulls her to safety and into the hearts of a new set of loving parents. The dramatic illustrations create a strong, rural south Indian setting, with their quick black lines, almost-solid black bodies and bold use of red and blue, with just a hint of yellow for the moon. A traditional tale's comeuppance for (and possible forgiveness of) the evil relatives is missing here, though, resulting in a narrative that feels incomplete. The thin story is mostly redeemed by the vigorous illustrations. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781896580579
  • Publisher: Tradewind Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachna Gilmore is the critically acclaimed Governor General's Award winning author of numerous books with multiple honours and awards. Her publications include picture books, early readers, middle grade and young adult novels, as well as adult fiction. Her books are sold internationally with translations in French, Danish, German, Korean, Dutch, Spanish, Urdu, Bengali, Chinese as well as several other languages.

Rachna's fantasy novel, The Sower of Tales, won the National Chapter IODE Violet Downey Book Award, and was nominated for the Red Maple Award and the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award. Her YA novel, A Group of One, (published by Henry Holt, and now available in paperback in Canada, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside) received a Jane Addams Children's Book Award Honor citation and was included in the New York Public Library's Best Books for the Teen Age list.

A student of life, Rachna loves to explore the ideas that spark and seize her imagination, as well as to play with words. She calls the process of creating books plarking - work, she says, is too tedious and grinding a word to describe the delight of the creative process, and play doesn't quite convey the real time and effort that goes into completing a book, whereas plarking covers it all, especially as it also reflects the joy and song of larking about.

Born in India, Rachna has lived in London, England, Prince Edward Island, and now lives in Ottawa. A skilled and experienced presenter, Rachna loves to share her enthusiasm for reading and writing; she has given readings and workshops in schools, libraries and conferences across the country as well as internationally.

Website: www.rachnagilmore.ca.

Pulak Biswas is one of India's most celebrated illustrators. A recipient of a UNESCO Fellowship for advanced studies in Illustration, he has illustrated many books, including Tiger On a Tree, which won the prestigious Grand Prix of the Biennale of Illustrations, Bratislava. He lives in New Delhi.

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