Sunday, 13 November 2016

A Jar of Pickles and Other Stories by Chitra Soundar and Uma Krishnaswamy (Children's, 7 years +, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

 October 2016, Walker books, 96 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary from Walker Books 
 Prince Veera and his best friend, Suku, are left in charge of King Beema's court when the king goes off on a hunting trip. Each day the king's subjects come before the boys with their problems and petty disagreements. Can Veera and Suku settle the dispute between the man who sells a well – but not the water in it – to his neighbour? Or solve the mystery of the jewels that have turned into pickles? And what about the old washerwoman who is set the task of washing the king's elephants until they turn white

Nayu's thoughts
There was just the right amount of parable like tales in this volume.  At least they fit my meaning of a parable without looking up its definition. Initially I was unsure whether to read this as it was a male protagonist, but sice it was fairly short I gave it a go. While I'd much prefer a princess to a prince, I was captivated by the fable-like story, how there was a moral to learn from each time Prince Veera and Suku gave advice. I was taken aback in a good way how clever the pair are, managing to complete the requesters' sometimes crazy requests by outsmarting them, no mean feat considering the demands of the request and the sometimes high status of the person making the request.

The tales which the title is named after were fun to read, like the other tales they gave glimpses into Indian culture such as how pickles are made and how clothes are washed by hand. However my favourite had to be the one when the prince's uncle makes an entirely unreasonable request for a man to prove he would take any job to provide for his family. It's a good job he didn't freeze to death, but I was shocked how the uncle twisted the innocent man's words and declared that he had forfeited the task due to a reason I prefer not to reveal so I don'-t spoil the story. the prince was desperate to intervene, but didn't dare anger his uncle, so thankfully found an alternate way to make the uncle see how unreasonable he is being.

This definitely belongs on my shelf next to other fables/parable tales which are fscinating to read. The grade is more to personal taste than anything not quite right with it.

Find out more on Chitra's website and Uma's website.

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