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Myriam Rasiwala

Wrestling Mania: a folktale from Punjab  By Sandhya Rao. Illustrated by Srividya Natarajan Sweet and Salty: a folktale from Andhra Pradesh I am so Sleepy  Both by Radhika Chadha. Art by Priya Kuriyan Tulika, Chennai, 2003, 2003 & 2004, Rs. 65.00, 65.00 & 95.00  The Very Hungry Lion  By Gita Wolf. Illustrated by Indrapranit Roy Tara Publishing, Chennai, 2000, price not stated. Catch That Crocodile!  By Anushka Ravishankar.  Illustrations by Pulak Biswas Tara Publishing, Chennai, 1999, Rs.90.00  The King and the Little Man The Tale of the Talking Face  Both by K. G. Subramanyan Seagull Books, Calcutta, 1985 & 1998, Rs. 20.00 & 140.00 The Third Race  By Ashok Ahuja Seagull Books, Calcutta,2004, pp. 69, Rs.400.00 Wingless – A Fairly Weird Fairy Tale  By Paro Anand. Illustrated by Atanu Roy India Ink, New Delhi, 2003,pp.78, Rs. 195.00     Sweet and Salty recounts the life of Penchilayya, a lazy but friendly fellow of rural Andhra Pradesh. When Gonrannagu the famous storyteller comes to the village, Bangaramma, Penchilayya’s wife, bids her indolent husband go attend the Ramayana sessions. Well, that’s exactly what Penchilayya grudgingly does, but he falls asleep and is unable to inform his wife about the great episodes he’s heard. Instead, he only remembers the taste of the laddoo he has been fed: sweet—and so goes the story. Wrestling Mania, part of the same collection of folk tales, takes us from daily life in Andhra Pradesh to a world of giants and colossus: it is a magical and fantastic tale about two wrestlers in Punjab who, wanting to compare their strength, eventually land up in an old woman’s palm, where they go on fighting unnoticed—a tale from a land where women and men are strong and brave.  What I like about these two folktales, and particularly about the second one, is the absence of a value judgement, the simple exposure of facts which could sound either real and ordinary or imaginary and fantastic, all there for the child’s imagination to capture. The wonderful illustrations in Wrestling Mania create a humorous and light atmosphere, and childishness is completely avoided here. Illustrations are precisely what makes I’m so sleepy’s charm too: colourful and gay, most enjoyable for young children who will relish delightful depictions of wild animals. But doesn’t the text, about Bahadur, a baby elephant who has forgotten how to sleep, somehow lack inventiveness? It does become repetitive after a few pages, and one wishes that the author had found a ...

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