Thursday, March 19, 2015

Delightful folktales!

My friend Riti Prasad is on a roll! I have before me her second book for children, Folktales from Around the World. It has five delightful stories, one each from Malaysia, South Africa, Czechoslovakia, Nigeria and Japan. The book is beautifully illustrated by Navleen Kohli.

The first story tells the tale of a clever mouse deer, who manages to outwit several far more powerful animals in the forest in which he lives.

The next, a Zulu folktale, tells us how stories were born, and is a charming account of a family whose children are hungry for stories, and how the mother's sincere efforts to get them stories bear fruit.

The Czech story is about two sisters, Marushka and Helena, and also why the Czech weather is so unpredictable.  Marushka's efforts to fulfull her  sister Helena's demands take her to the top of the mountain, at the base of which they live with their parents, where she meets the twelve months, who help her. Of course there is a moral too.

The Yoruba tale from Nigeria, about an elephant and a tortoise, is an absolute delight. Anything more about this story would detract from the fun of it!

The Moonflower, a story from Japan, is a beautiful story about a baby girl who is found in the forest by a childless woodcutter, who takes her home to his wife, and they bring her up as their own child.
Once she grows up, her destiny takes an unexpected turn. A gentle, poignant story.

I only wish there had been more stories. These are refreshingly different, and also a reminder of the world's amazingly rich heritage of folk tales.

Published by Mango Books, an imprint of DC Books.
You can order it here:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Neighbours!

I first encountered these neighbours last spring, and was delighted to know that they were part of our environs. The husband was more frequently visible, although he'd often perform apparently magical disappearing tricks. I managed to spy his hideaway one day: the hole in the balcony ceiling for a ceiling fan fixture.
Now Mr. And Mrs. Sparrow were lithe and agile creatures,who hopped/flew in and out of their home with alacrity, but it certainly seemed to be a strange place for a nest. The laws of gravity seemed to be beyond the understanding of this couple. ( Besides the fact that the laundry drying on the stands in the balcony was often decorated by bird-droppings).
A couple of eggs smashed onto the floor. I sincerely hoped that Mrs.Sparrow had laid enough eggs for at least some to hatch. And then it was time for me to leave for several weeks, for the birth of my grandchild.
The spouse followed a month later, and the house was closed for about a fortnight.

When I opened the balcony door, I was saddened to see two almost dessicated baby bird carcasses on the floor. I don't know if their were any survivors out of that clutch of eggs.

It's spring again, Mr. Sparrow is visible, while his mate is only heard. I truly wonder at the chances of the survival of their chicks. I am fond of these neighbours and only wish that they weren't such bird brains.