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Paro Anand

By Shreekumar Varma ; Kalpish Ratna; Zai Whitaker; Anushka Ravishankar
Puffin Books, New Delhi, 2006, 2006, 2006, 2005, pp. 216, pp. 287, pp. 60, pp. 103, Rs. 175.00, Rs. 375.00, Rs. 150.00, Rs. 155.00

By Andreas Steinhofel and Anjatuckermann
Tara Publications, Delhi, India, 2004, Rs. 175.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 11 November 2006

How should I start? You’ve caught me a bit off-guard… So starts David’s first letter to Mona in David Days And Mona Nights by Andreas Steinhofel and Anja Tuckermann. So starts my article. How and where do I start seems a good beginning for each of the books rainbowing my table right now. Each calls for attention, space and its rightful place at the very top of the article—to be the crowning glory.   Each one deserves to be there too. I have spent the past many days delving deeply between each cover, trying to forget the deadline closing in. But I didn’t want to rush through any one of them. For, as Ammoomma warns in Devil’s Garden by Shreekumar Varma, “Don’t miss the details, if you jump in and try to speed up the tale, you’ll lose the juice.” “Lose the juice?!”   “These stories are precious records of unusual people. You must give them enough value, and you must imbibe them. You must never rush me!” Let me start then, by saying that with this bouquet, the health of children’s literature seems to be blossoming. Each one is different, delightful, daring and also beautifully produced and packaged. Each one deserves to be savoured slowly, delectably.   Nyagrodha – The Ficus Chronicles by Kalpish Ratna is an amazing redention of the oft-told Panchatantra. But told, this time around, with a punch and zest that are the trademark of the two authors, Ishrat Syed and Kalpana Swaminathan whose near anagram – ‘Kalpish Ratna’ translates as ‘the pleasures of imagination.’ A term that really does describe the book. Straddling, as it does, the long ago world of Vishnu Sharman and the frenetic lives of today, the frame for the stories is not the dunderhead princes or of a desperate king in search of suitable education for his sons, but rather, three children and a monkey who step off a train at an unexpected halt. Three separate, desperate lives, entwined by the need to break away. And what a break they get when they join forces and enter a magical world of good and evil, talking animals, evil plots, seeds of suspicion, gullible kings and much, much more. There are the ‘familiars’, the blue jackal, the monkey with its tail in a wedge. But there are some very unexpected twists that Vishnu Sharman may wish he’d thought of ...

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