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Rachna Puri Dhir

By Anu Kumar
Hachette, India, 2012, pp. 50, Rs. 99.00


Hiranyakashipu and his nemesis, Narasimha, an Avatar of Vishnu, are the central characters of eight short stories that are included in this book. For a mythological children’s book to begin as ‘Our story begins in the middle of the action’ is unusual.   What is evident is that the author must have conducted immense research on numerous sources to write these stories. It must have been a Herculean task to sift through details to arrive at the final product, to make it understood by young readers, without compromising on the story line. Such effort needs to be applauded.   The book does not give any guidelines for the ideal age of readers but it would be safe to say it is appropriate for ages 8 . Of course, a younger audience can enjoy the stories being read by an elder sibling or caring adult. Publishers of such international repute such as Hachette would be expected to share biographies of their illustrators and authors as a standard practice, but neither was found on the jacket or inside, which is a pity.   The illustrations are credited to Maya Magical Studios, implying perhaps that the line drawings might be generated by a computer. Many mismatches between written description and accompanying illustrations (for example, sage standing on his toe in meditation, use of mace not bow and arrow by the king, to name a few) are rather unfortunate to not have been addressed by editor(s) in the pre-publication stage. Children, they say, are like sponges and believe what they are told. They are also extremely observant could be the corollary and hence should not be taken for a ride. Attention to detail is so important when producing books for children as is quality control. To give the credit for cover design to an email id is nothing short of advertising, which is highly questionable.   The Myth Quest Series claims to ‘bring fascinating stories from the vast treasures of ancient mythology’. Given that Mythology and Religion have always been popular genres for children’s books in India, it must be a commercially viable proposition for publishers—big and small, of Indian origin as well as international ones with presence in India, to bring out books on the same religious and mythical characters, since time immemorial.   Myth Quest’s self proclaimed aim is to make its readers into ‘Myth Masters… by collecting all the titles in the series’. ...

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