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Andaleeb Wajid

By Paro Anand
Red Turtle, Rupa, Delhi, 2013, pp. 95, Rs. 150.00

By Bhairavi Parekh
Hachette, India, 2013, pp. 165, Rs. 299.00


Paro Anand’s little gem of a book, The Little Bird Who Held The Sky Up With His Feet, has been classified as a modern fable. But the story that it tells, of the environment and nature’s destructive edge resonates with the spate of floods and rainfall that have wreaked destruction in Uttarkhand in the recent past.   The story begins with the animals of the forest, worried about the impending monsoon fury that will surely rip away everything that they hold dear. Although there are sceptics among them, like Jackal who feels that everyone is getting riled up over nothing, the truth hits home when Elephant leaves the forest with her calf. Parrot who has flown over the forest confirms that the monsoon this year would indeed be terrible. Why is this so? The mountains that shielded the forest from harsh rains have been denuded and hence, the forest would feel the full fury of the monsoon.   The king of the forest, Lion, summons everyone for a meeting and asks for suggestions to save the forest. Everyone is clueless and unhappy on knowing that even their great king has no idea how to control the fury of the rains. The king offers a prestigious reward to anyone who can come up with a viable idea to save them all and gives them three days time. At the end of it, an unlikely contender comes forward. Piddi, a tiny little sparrow hesitantly narrates the dream that he has had to the gathered assembly of animals. In his dream, the sun tells Piddi that only he can save the forest from the wicked rain clouds.   Does Piddi save the forest and the animals? How does he manage to do it? What happens to the forest? Do the animals survive? The story works as a straightforward narrative with an easy to understand concept of courage, bravery, determination and selfless sacrifice. Also evident is the warning to humans about the dangers of ruthlessly exploiting the environment. If one were to nitpick, I’d just say that the epilogue doesn’t really fit in with the modern allusions to environmental destruction in the rest of the book. But overall, an enjoyable book that children will relate to easily especially with the illustrations that help the author in making her point.   The Water Catchers is a book with good intentions and promise which seems to ...

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