The book reading gave kids a chance to listen to folk tales from three continents.

A cloudy afternoon, with winds cooling the city is definitely the perfect time for a book reading session.

Seated in a little nook with a sand pit on one side and play equipment on the other, that made the venue Pappadum the right choice to hear Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan's A Pie Surprise And Other Stories. Panning three continents the stories gave the audience a cultural display of values spread on three different plates. With their roots still embedded in folk tales the stories had everyone in rapt attention.

Themed around giving and the need to be generous, each story spoke of happiness. The book begins with “A Pie Surprise” — based in a Massachusetts suburb. It's the story of three children Kathy, Charlotte and Bob as they plan a robbery for their mother on the eve of Thanksgiving. Well, only in this case it's a robbery with a difference. Bob steals one of the three pies Mrs Roberts has baked. But read the story to find out what he did with the stolen pie!

The second story is of a little girl Anansi in a West African village, who wants her mother to narrate one more story before she falls asleep. Her mother talks about a time when the Sun, Moon and Wind went on a feast with their uncle and aunt Lightning and Thunder. When their mother Sky asks them what they brought back for her, Sun and Wind reply rudely that they did not as it would have soiled their clothes. But the Moon on the other hand gave her a sample of everything she could bring. Sky blesses her and curses her sons the Sun and Wind.

Ramu is the central character of the third story. Set in Calcutta, Ramu aims to sell at least six of his dusters to get enough money for his sister's birthday. He plans well and does manage to sell them all.

The tales teach you to think about others and inspire you to share with those not be as fortunate. The virtues of sharing and giving and the inspiration drawn from folk legends make this book a fine example of a global cultural experience.

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Archana SubramanianJune 28, 2012