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The Ghost Catcher: A Bengali Folktale


In this Bengali folktale, a barber uses his wits and his trusty mirror to outsmart some scary, but unintelligent ghosts.

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In this Bengali folktale, a barber uses his wits and his trusty mirror to outsmart some scary, but unintelligent ghosts.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
A young barber’s wife sends him away to earn more money. He encounters a ghost who is ready to eat him. Announcing that he is a ghost catcher, the barber shows the ghost himself in a mirror, declaring he will catch him as he has that ghost unless he brings him one thousand gold mohor. When the frightened ghost complies, the barber then tells him to build him a shed full of rice. This makes the barber’s wife happy. But the ghost’s uncle, seeing this, is angry. The clever barber, however, manages to trick the uncle as well. Balouch visualizes this light-hearted tale in textured double-page scenes with decorative borders. Her stencil-like shapes depict the open air Indian lifestyle in light colors, with page designs suggesting fabric patterns. Although objects and characters are painted flat, considerable animation is produced by the curvilinear shapes of the ghosts’ bodies, flowing through the air like vapors from a bottle. The characters are all displayed and identified on the endpages. A final page lists the source of the story, along with background information on India. Lesson plans are also available. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3- A fluid retelling of a traditional folktale. A good-hearted barber, who sets up his business under a tree "in a small village in Bengal," does not like to charge customers who are down on their luck. His angry wife finally tells him not to return home without money. He goes to the next village and spends the night under a tree, where he encounters a ghost who threatens to eat him. The barber holds up a mirror and scares the ghost into bringing him a pot of gold and building a house filled with rice. When the ghost's uncle appears, the clever barber manages to frighten him with the same trick and ends up with a second building filled with rice and more gold. At the end, the man is back under his village tree with enough riches to share, surrounded by people who tell him stories while he trims their beards or cuts their hair. Digitally created illustrations in solid colors are printed on fabric, lending texture and depth to the artwork. The ghosts' whimsical facial expressions effectively show their gullibility, and the background colors shine through their bodies to emphasize their ethereal nature. However, the depiction of a generic Indian background in the outdoor scenes misses the opportunity to showcase Bengal-specific details of setting or clothes. A background note includes sources.-Monika Schroeder, American Embassy School Library, New Delhi, India

Kirkus Reviews
A Bengali barber loves stories so much he refuses payment when he hears one. His wife worries about their family's welfare and sends him away until he can ensure that they won't starve. Upon leaving, the barber immediately meets a hungry ghost. The quick-thinking barber threatens to trap him in his mirror, whereupon the ghost, aghast, agrees to gather money for the barber and to build a shed and fill it with rice. Unfortunately, the ghost's uncle sees his nephew at work and vows to teach the barber a thing or two about respect. If the barber is to save himself, he will have to use his wits and his haircutting tools to come up another plan right away. Balouch's bright, memorable illustrations create a fanciful Indian setting with crisp, colorful figures digitally placed on a fabric background for texture. Teamed with spirited and eminently tellable prose, they conjure up a colorful, magical land where cleverness can save the day. (author's note) (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874838350
  • Publisher: August House Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/25/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.11 (w) x 11.55 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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