Eight traditional Indian folktales are retold in new, original settings.
Prince Veera and his good friend Suku, the farmer’s son, enjoy “play[ing] court,” following the example of wise King Bheema. When the king is unwell one day, the two 10-year-olds get permission to hear and judge some simple cases. Does the greedy merchant who makes delicious sweets deserve to be paid by the people who smell their intense fragrance? Did the pot that one neighbor gave to another for safekeeping contain jewels or mango pickles? How do you find out how many crows live in the city? The stories stand alone, as Prince Veera and Suku discuss and ponder, ask questions, and roam about while they contemplate their decisions. The text is simple and has some cultural details, giving a peek into traditional Indian life, but offers very little context or background. A notable omission is that no women or girls are included in any of the stories except one. No backmatter is included, no sources are mentioned, and there is no indication of the time period when these stories take place, detracting from the full enjoyment of these retellings. Krishnaswamy’s energetic black-and-white spot art offers authentic glimpses of Indian life, with illustrations of people, birds and animals, the marketplace, the countryside, and more.
Readers who are familiar with traditional Indian folktales will recognize these well-known stories; readers new to them may enjoy their quiet simplicity and the wisdom of the two young protagonists. (Fiction. 7-10)