Monday, November 30, 2009



Written by Oriole Henry
Photographs by Clare Arni
Published by Pratham Books
Ages : 8 +

Here is a book which I fell in love with, the moment I set my eyes on it. It is a very well written book with stunning photographs which take you on the journey of the river Cauvery from it's birth to it's end.

The fascinating story starts at Talacauvery, a place in Coorg (Karnataka) where the river originates. Soon we traverse the various significant places that the river meanders through. The facts about the river at these places are interspersed with the legends associated with them in that location. So you have the story of how Cauvery was born, what happened at Srirangapatnam when Tipu Sultan was the ruler and the spooky curse of Talakad. In fact the author says that the curse is still valid in that location. So you wonder what's the curse ?! No, I am not going to reveal it have to pick the book and find out for yourself :-).

The river is likened to a girl- who jumps and rushes along when she is young, becomes more placid midway and finally looks very thin as she joins the sea at Poompuhar in Tamilnadu. As the author says, it was alright that she looked small because she had spent much of her energy feeding the lush paddy fields in the rice bowl of India before she quietly joined the sea.

Here is an extract from the last page of the book -

'Clare Arni and Oriole Henry followed the Cauvery for four months from its source in the mountains of Coorg down to where it meets the sea at Poompuhar. “In an old Maruti car we explored every road and path we found, no matter how seemingly impassable. We flew over the Cauvery, took boats down it and waded across its rushing waters to try and capture the history and mythology along its banks, the changing landscape across two states and the life this magnificent river sustains.”

I read this book to my 7 year old son and here is what I really liked about the book -
The facts and the legends are beautifully interwoven, so that the children retain their interest as we go along. They don't get bored with the facts.

The facts are enhanced by the wonderful photographs and trivia little details given at the bottom of the page, which will surely interest the children.

I simply loved the way Oriole Henry has written this book- the factual details, legends and her own emotions which conveyed a feeling of ownership of the river !

I think another reason I enjoyed the book was that we have been to quite a few of the places that Cauvery flows through - Coorg, Bheemeshwari fishing camp and quite recently Tanjore area in Tamilnadu. It was the monsoon season and the river was in full flow. It was indeed a visual treat as we saw the the lush green paddy fields all around.

Now for my son's reaction to this book ! He was quite fascinated as we read along. With his eyes wide open he listened to me as he made the connections to the river being talked about and his own fun experiences with the river.

This is a new book which has just been launched by Pratham. At only Rs.60, this must be the costliest book of theirs. The reason being this is their first book to be printed on recycled paper. It is available in English, Hindi, Kannada and Marathi. For more information click here.

Update : On the topic of rivers in India, Tulika publications have four books in this series.


sathish said...

A very well written and interesting book. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

Only point I felt could have been dealt in more detail is that there is very little reference to Cauvery and stories around Cauvery from Tamil Nadu. Poompuhar and Srirangam was only mentioned in passing at the very end. There is hardly a mention of many small temple villages/towns that sprung up around cauvery and its canals. neither was there more than a mention of kallanai (a massive rock cut dam) and the oldest water diversion structure in place in the world.

But, please note that these can no way take away the beauty of this wonderful book. That will probably come as book #2 on cauvery. :)

Choxbox said...

we loved the book, in fact i bought five copies and have gifted it to friends' kids! just today hindu young world has done a review on it as well!

Tharini said...

Wow. I have tingles just imagining what must be inside this book! I am amazed at the lengths the writers have gone through to, so deeply, research a book. It must have been quite an adventure! The kind that makes you want to put on your backpack and say..Let's go!

Praba Ram said...

fascinating one, Ranjani! Rivers are so graceful... My kids will certainly be able to relate to the book. We were in Coorg this Aug, and drove to thalacauvery chasing the monsoon clouds.also,rode across Cauvery at Dubare after all the rains and the river was mighty full.. Will get the book for sure!

thank you!

ranjani.sathish said...

Sathish : Yeah, this did not strike me until you pointed it out !

Choxbox : After you mentioned, I went and read the Young World review....had somehow missed it today morning. What a coincidence that both the reviews have happened on the same day !!

Tharini : Exactly my sentiments :-). The amount of research done by them shows in the quality of the work. Their adventure truly inspired me and made me think " nice it would be to go on a trip like that following a river".

Sheela said...

Wow, Ranjani, I remember going to Talacauvery when living in Mysore, but, never followed the lovely river's path all the way... like Satish said, there must be a book #2 or something as I am sure there is so much that it cannot all be packed in one book, especially the TN part of it... This is certainly an interesting find!

ranjani.sathish said...

Prabha : We missed out on Dubare elephant camp, due to unexpected rains at that time...I have heard it is a wonderful place too. Btw your comment was not visible yday and could see it only today !

Sheela : thank you !

the mad momma said...

it sounds awesome ! I guess we're not as bereft in terms of kiddy literature about our country as I imagined we were..

Poppy said...

The amount of research gone into this sounds impressive!

8+ huh? Another 4 more years to go before we can enjoy these type of books! :)

Choxbox said...

@poppy: err.. my 4 year old likes it too. of course she very likely relates to it only because we recently did talacauvery and dubare.

utbtkids said...

I remember Tulika's river series from couple of years back. I 'think' they have black and white, hand drawn sketches.

I haven't read this book, sounds interesting though. My wish list just keeps increasing.

ranjani.sathish said...

MM: Yes, once we start digging I realise there is a good treasure out there :-). Offlate I am finding that a good start towards the treasure is chox, who is very knowledgeable about the various publications in India and especially the availability in Bangalore.

Poppins mom, I was about to say those words but chox beat me to it ! As she mentioned I think smaller kids can relate to the pictures in the book, if they have seen it before or kind of had some experience with it. We can also simplify and explain to them in our mother tongue as I sometimes do with my younger one.

Utbtkids : You are right about the Tulika series. It is a "Read and colour" series. I will update the post with that info too.

Meera Sriram said...

Sathish, you seem to bitten by the travel bug and I seem to be smitten by your reviews:) I'd love to read a book on the course of a river to my daughter, this one in particular might have to wait, but these are some great subjects, beautifully presented. Thanks!

sathish said...

meera, this review was by ranjani. but, I do not mind taking the kudos!

Meera Sriram said...

Sathish, you can still hold on to the first part of my kudos (with finds like "are we there yet?" and books on time traveling to matches), Ranjani - apologies. Thanks for this great review!

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