Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Indian Tales

Indian Tales

Spring 2008 Picture Books
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Author: Shenaaz Nanji
Illustrator: Christopher Corr
ISBN: 9781846860836
Hardcover Price: $19.99
There are other collections of Indian folktales edited for children, but this one, compiled and rewritten by Shenaaz Nanji, is a standout. For one thing, Nanji addresses India's complexity and variety by highlighting tales from eight distinct regions-from the state of Punjab in the far north all the way to lush Kerala in the southern tip. She also prefaces each tale with two pages of simple, child-friendly cultural information (foods, animals, wedding traditions, etc.) about the state the tale is from. In this way the tales are contextualized and therefore better appreciated. In addition, for readers who want to learn more, there is a lengthy list of online sources about the featured Indian states. The tales themselves encompass stories of princesses, talking animals, magic spells and more-in short, even though the cultural specifics might be new to American readers, the situations are not unlike Western folktales and fairy tales they might be more familiar with. Christopher Corr's gouache paintings are a gorgeous complement to Nanji's text. They are richly colored in bright pinks, oranges, yellows and sky blues, but with a primitive feel that makes them far more playful than formal. This is a wonderful glimpse into both traditional Indian lore and modern life.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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