Retelling a story from her childhood, well-known Bengali-American writer Divakaruni uses lively language, nonsense syllables and traditional rhythms.
When Grandma sets out to visit her daughter and grandchildren, she must cross the jungle in between their villages. She leaves her faithful dogs home to tend her garden. Along the way, she meets a fox, a bear and a tiger that all want to eat her, but she persuades the predators that she will be fatter, plumper and juicier on her way back. She approaches her return journey with trepidation, but the inventive mother and daughter create a plan for a safe trip. The old woman is soon ensconced inside a giant, hollowed-out gourd. When the daughter has sealed her in with stitches and rice glue, she starts the gourd rolling toward her mother’s village. First the tiger and then the bear approach the gourd in hopes of finding something to eat. They are each fooled by the grandma singing out and asking for a push. At last, the crafty fox realizes the trick, but by then, Grandma is so close to home the dogs are able to rescue her. The storyteller’s voice is augmented by frequent repetition and onomatopoeia, making this story a pleasure to read aloud. Intensely colored and patterned collages on glossy paper boldly advance the plot.
This fresh new version will soon have young listeners and readers telling the story themselves. (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)