|Pic courtesy flipkart|
Jatayu - Saviour from the Skies.
Nandi - The Divine Gatekeeper.
Jambavan - The Immortal Bear King.
Written by Anu Kumar.
Published by Hachette India Children's Books.
Ages 4+ read aloud, 8+ read alone
Jatayu, Nandi and Jambavan are who one might call 'minor characters' in the Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. They are nevertheless important in their own way. Here we have our own homegrown versions of magic and divinity, fantastic creatures and gods /demigods behaving in a most human way. In each book, we go through almost entire epics from the vantage point of the particular protagonist.
I was reminded of a set of books called 'Katha Kalpataru' written in Marathi, that I have from which I had been read to in my early childhood by my grandmother, and which I have myself devoured when I was older and able to read Marathi on my own. It is a set of 16 books, a compilation of many interlinked stories from the Indian mythology, told in the way of folktales, one story leading seamlessly to another. There are many fast-forwards and flashbacks to this kind of storytelling, but it is guaranteed to keep the attention of the audience/reader.
Anu Kumar has used this same method in her books, distilling all stories about the protagonist from various sources- which I am sure are the two epics and the Puranas.
She has also mentioned that there are various versions of the same story, as also different geneologies for the characters, and that she has taken the most interesting versions for her book. This, I think, is true of most of mythology/folklore- and it changes depending upon the culture in which the story has been propogated.
This may be an interesting addition to the book collections of those who want mythology in bite-sized portions, or for parents struggling to come up with a bed-time story for a little one- a story interesting enough, but not too long (each chapter can become a separate story)- and yet keep the child wanting more the next day. As also a slim enough book for a child/parent who may be intimidated by a bigger book. (I know many of those- I have added these books to my list to be recommended to those friends/ neighbours who would like to have a book for a child not seriously into reading, but wanted something interesting, as well as inexpensive.) Or just another interesting book on Indian mythology for someone like us here.