AGERANGE: Ages 6 to 10.
Between luscious watermelon pink endpapers, this beautifully illustrated story collection bursts with the images and colors of India. The retold traditional stories come from all over the country--from Punjab in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south, Gujarat in the west to Bengal in the east. A kind-hearted boy is rewarded with the drum he longs to own. A girl without a dowry defeats a robber by using her wits and finds a husband without benefit of riches. In protecting the tree she has befriended, a princess finds her true love. Some of the stories come from classical mythic traditions, such as the story of Nala and Damayanti and the Hanuman story from the Ramayana. Others are clearly from folk traditions, like the adaptation of the Divaali story of the washerwoman and the goddess Lakshmi. Nanjis prose is clean and crisp. On the whole she manages to avoid the common pitfall of didacticism in conveying cultural nuance while telling a story, and it is wonderful to see such a regionally diverse collection of tales. An author's note and introductory chapter offer supplementary information about India and provide some context. Each story, in addition, includes prefatory pages with information about the state from which it comes. The source list in the back unfortunately seems to consist solely of Internet sites with additional information for young readers, rather than a bibliography of sources used by the author for these retellings. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
This anthology presents eight fluid retellings of folktales from different Indian states. It includes "Hanuman's Adventures," part of the "Ramayana," in which the monkey god Hanuman helps Prince Rama find his wife, as well as a retelling of the tale of Damayanti and Nala, a love story from the Sanskrit epic, the "Mahabharata." Several folktales center on girls-some need to find a passable husband; others are kidnapped or mistreated by a stepmother. An introduction offers a brief overview of the country's history, from Indus Valley civilization to the Mughal dynasties, concluding with a paragraph about modern India. Each folktale is preceded by a note with facts about the state from which it originated, including explanations of festivals or terms that appear in the text. Illustrations and page borders support the texts perfectly as the folk-style paintings reflect colors of rural life. Attention to detail is given by including the typical tie-dye fabrics for the stories set in Rajasthan and Gujarat as well as the Dravidian temple architecture for the one set in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Source notes are included. The collection provides a good introduction to Indian folklore and could be enjoyed as a read-aloud by younger children, while students in the intermediate grades can enjoy them independently.
Monika SchroederCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.