Folk tales from around the world are sure to keep you hooked.
Most Indian kids are familiar with stories from the Panchatantara or the Jatakas or even simple folk tales. But what about folk tales from other countries? Apart from Grimm's Fairy Tales, not many of us would be aware of a folk tale from say Ireland or Scandinavia. This is where Jamila Gavin's The Whistling Monster comes in handy. This collection of 10 stories from various countries is a treat for young readers. Of the 10, only two are well known— Puss in Boots and the Birth of Krishna.
“The Simple Same Man” from Finland has a faint flavour of Cinderella, a hint of how things can be the same despite vast distances. “The Paradise City” from Morocco is a simply told tale of man's greed and pride. The Mongolian tale “Gulnara the Warrior” preaches peace while the Maori “Rona and the Moon” gives a new twist to the traditional hare on the moon tale.
The stories are simply told and the large font is a blessing when you're trying to get a child to read. Suzanne Barrett's black and white illustrations are eye-catching.
Three Indian Princesses by the same author comprises three tales from Hindu mythology: Savitri, Damayanti and Sita. Though familiar, Jamila's humour and language make for an easy read. Sita's story is practically an abridged version of the Ramayana from the time of the wedding. Both Savitri and Damayanti follow the traditional tales and there is no twist or attempt to cast these tales in a new light. With no illustrations, this book may seem text heavy initially but the author's sure touch keeps you hooked.
The Whistling Monster: Stories From Around the World and Three Indian Princesses: The Stories of Savitri, Damayanti & Sita; Jamila Gavin, Walker Books, £ 3.99, £ 4.99