New Login   


Sandhya Rao

By Mala Kumar and Manisha Chaudhry. Illustrated by Sangeeta Das
Pratham Books, 2015, pp. 8, Rs. 30.00

By Noni . Illustrated by Tanaya Vyas
Pratham Books, 2015, pp. 12, Rs. 30.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 11 November 2015

In terms of publishing, the most interesting thing about Pishi Caught in a Storm is that the story was inspired by an entry to an illustration competition that Pratham Books held. The fact around which this book is woven is that manta rays visit so-called cleaning stations, where small fish eat parasites and dead tissue off their bodies. This information is provided in a note at the end of the book, and it sets your spine tingling, especially when you remember that it was a manta ray that killed the charismatic Australian television personality and conservationist Steve Irwin, also known as ‘the crocodile hunter’. But when you start reading this little story told over 6 pages, you don’t know this. There’s no hint on the dramatic cover illustration … well, unless you take the shadowy ship-like manta ray at one of the huge waves as a sign. The title page gives it away a bit, with a picture of a manta ray in the company of little fishes. But you don’t know the real story until you read the note, and feel those goose bumps erupt! Pishi is a manta ray and he gets separated from his friends— other manta rays, of course—when they encounter a ship. He tries to escape but loses his bearings when a storm breaks and he cuts himself on his belly. But he’s smart, he gets all 10 metres and 900 kilos plus of himself to the hospital, nature’s hospital, where the cleaner fish nurse him back to normal. Clearly, the writers felt the theme was a teaching opportunity that could not be missed. I can’t help feeling, though, that Pishi’s story would have lost none of the quality of enchantment even if it had been told in a nonfictional way. To put it another way, it didn’t really need to be fictionalized, because really, the truth is so often more amazing than fiction. There’s also one puzzling matter. The first sentence goes: ‘Pishi was feeling sad and lonely.’ Immediately we want to know why. The next sentence is: ‘Just a day ago, he was one of a group of manta rays.’ After that, the narrative goes on continuously to the time that the cleaner fish do their job on him and he feels much better. Okay, so he was sad because he got separated from his friends and ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.