Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Story of a Panther

Pic source Penguin

The Story of a Panther
Author/ Illustrator- Mickey Patel
Puffin
Ages- 5 plus


Not all stories have a happy ending. By and large I steer clear of sad tales. This was my first exception. The book cover was so adorable we had to pick it up. I expected a happy frolic-filled tale, which is what it was for the most part.

Your heart will go out to the panther who is disarmingly sweet, innocent and inquisitive. He wanders into a town and into a house and unwittingly scares the inmates, causing an overreaction and mob frenzy.

The characters are playfully rendered with some colouring spilling out of the lines. Their personality shines through- be it the pompous magistrate or the cow or even the baby on the donkey .

There is a subtle humour in the illustration and the story till the end when it turns sombre and brutally sad. There is no sugar to make the medicine go down, the author delivers it straight. Curiosity really does kill this misunderstood cat .

The story offers a good opening to explain/ discuss animal rights and conservation. And it warns against distrust and preconceived notions that cloud judgement.

The drawings are inspiring. They use a sketch pen shading style which I think children tend to favour. The follow up activities in terms of art are many in this book.

Earlier I might even have modified it myself but Anushka now reads books herself (with a bit of help now and then.) I wanted to gauge her reaction and also communicate that such insensitivity exists and she and her friends need to make amends. Which is how it went. I think children who are five and above can take this tale.

Mickey Patel (1941–94) was an accomplished painter and a gifted illustrator of children’s books. He won many awards, including the Noma Concours awarded by UNESCO for ‘Children’s Picture Book Illustrations’. The Story of a Panther, was published three years after his death.

16 comments:

nanands said...

Children understand insensitivity much more than we think is possible. If you observe an unsupervised class of children through a one way glass and listen in to all that they say, you will observe both insensitivity and sharp responses against it. Clinically looking at the issues, we overprotect human children and under protect other animals.

artnavy said...

Yes that is so true- kids can be brutal in their comments...

Praba said...

Now I am starting to get very curious about this book! :) Nice to see a book that "delivers it straight" The sugarcoating can go either way.

On the same note - my eight year old and I are evaluating whether or not to read "The Bridge to Terabithia" and the fact that it is about dealing with a best friend's death. She clearly wants to steer clear of such heavy themes, at least as of now. Anyone here had any experience with that book?

Thanks, Art for a very sensitive pick and a thoughtfully done review. :)

sandhya said...

We read that one, Prabha, recently, and yes, it was quite distressing for A. It was not just about the death, but about the suddenness, the unexpectedness of it. There was a story by Micheal Morpurgo that she read recently-The giant's necklace, which also featured the unexpectedness of death, and she was really upset by it. Had discussed it with Chox then. Actually this has made me go a little easy with the Harry Potter series with her. Although she is extremely interested, I haven't been able to let her handle them herself. And we're taking it slowly. P, you might need to be with her or read to her such books initially.

sandhya said...

And Art, will certainly look out for this one. Great review!

artnavy said...

yes- these stories may seem dark and agonising even to some kids...

BTW i was amused to see that it says panther but depicts a leopard... and then I read this -http://myths-made-real.blogspot.com/2010/08/creature-feature-black-panthers.html

Anush had no problems with that at all...children are more tolerant as well....

Meera Sriram said...

The cover of this book seems to make sure the reader is actually unprepared for something dark:)And thanks for Art for the panther tidbit!

Praba said...

Appreciate your thoughts on reading such books, Sandhya. Profound insights as always. And I hear you on the suddenness of it. I teared up and I am glad to read it as an adult. You are doing the right thing about taking it slow with the kid. The book, I believe, has been frequently debated for the difficult reading experience and intense emotions. A very powerful book, indeed.

Booklover said...

nice to see reviews of children books posted here :)

ChoxBox said...

Will hunt this one Art. Thanks for the reco.

Yes Sandhya agree with you re 'Bridge to Terabithia’. That one I have kept away for now. Harry Potter she has easily handled as well as the Morpurgo story but this one *I* feel is extremely intense.

The other thing is that each child is different - some can handle darker and sadder stuff earlier or later than another, and I’d say it is for us parents to gauge it and make the right sort of books available - as with everything else.

artnavy said...

Meera- u r right!

Chox/Book lover-:-)

Praba/ Chox- yes - children are diff- anush is ok with blood in the ocassional mythological/ jataka tales which i still shudder at ...

ChoxBox said...

Multiple comments and perhaps going off on a tangent Art, but have been grappling with this for a while now so here goes again -
the thing about Bridge to Terabithia is that one of the two main characters dies. Those two are what the story is about and there isn't much more, which is probably is why it seems so intense.
In the HP series on the other hand, folks die but since there are so many of them it doesn't hit you so hard I guess. Now if Harry died, then maybe it would have been different. I know at least three 6 and 7 year olds who have read the entire HP series and when I asked the moms they all said the kids seemed fine with the whole dark stuff, while *I* was not ready for my child reading HP when she was that age. So yes Art, different kids/folks, different strokes.

artnavy said...

Bridge to Terabithia seems to sad for even me to read!!

Chox- ST is such a wonderful resource in terms of such discussions as well- maybe sometime we can go interactive and take up reader questions once a week?!

Netanya Rommel said...

Although "The Story of the Panther" seems to cover a complex topic for most children, it seems that the author's drawings helps illustrate the issue in a way that children can comprehend, and a way in which parents can discuss the issue on human rights. Illustration is a very powerful tool for young readers. I can't wait to check out this book! Thank you for sharing!

Netanya
http://storiesfromslumbervillage.wordpress.com/
marketing@storiesfromslumbervillage.com

artnavy said...

netanya
Yes the illustartor author has managed to liven up the pathos though you do feel bad for the panther

I just visited your blog- congrats on your book sounds lovely...grandparents ROCK!

ChoxBox said...

brill idea art!

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